Brandon Clarke DV NBA Draft

Desert Vista alum Brandon Clarke was drafted 21st overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Brandon Clarke, who starred at Desert Vista High School and Gonzaga University, will begin his professional basketball career with the Memphis Grizzlies after he was drafted 21st overall in the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Clarke on Memphis' behalf after the two organizations agreed to trade the 21st and 23rd overall picks.

“He’s a kid that has worked hard his whole life and it is something he deserves,” said Tony Darden, who coached Clarke at Desert Vista and was with him in Brooklyn, N.Y. for the draft.

“Going through this process with him, it’s just one of those things that I am excited for him and I’m ready to see him flourish at the next level.”

A 6-foot-8, 210 pound power forward, Clarke was widely considered one of the best athletes in the draft after an impressive performance at the NBA Draft Combine in May. 

His explosiveness on both ends of the floor gives him a chance to make an immediate impact for the Grizzlies next season.

"On the court I like to play with a lot of fire, really" Clarke told ESPN's Maria Taylor after his name was called. "I'm just always trying to make plays happen that are crazy."

Clarke became one of the Desert Vista's top playmakers during his time with the Thunder. He quickly became one of the top recruits in the 2015 class.

He averaged 17.3 points per game, 8.6 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game in his last season for Desert Vista. He recorded a triple-double in 10 games during his senior year, and helped lead the Thunder to the 2015 state title game.

Clarke went on to play for San Jose State University, where he appeared in 31 games as a freshman, three of which he started. He was voted as the Mountain West Conference Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman after he averaged 8.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

As a sophomore, Clarke averaged 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks for the Spartans. He was named to the All-Mountain West First Team and All-Defensive Team.

Clarke transferred to Gonzaga University and redshirted during his junior year. He started in 36 games for the Zags this past season, and helped lead them to an Elite 8 appearance in the NCAA Tournament after averaging 16.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. He recorded 13 double-doubles in his lone season at Gonzaga, and was named to the All-West Coast Conference First Team and the Wooden All-American Team.

"He can make an immediate impact,” Darden said. “The type of player he is, he’s very versatile and will be able to contribute immediately.

“He’s ready to go.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

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