Jalen Clark has been defying gravity since he was in middle school — a talent that amazed first-time witnesses and filled others with envy.
“The first time he dunked in a middle school game, people were like, ‘Oh my gosh!’,” recounted his dad, Kymane Clark. “And I still remember there were some fans of the team he was playing who were saying, ‘That’s not fair!’ — and they were serious.”
Kymane Clark smiled and slowly shook his head as he described the scene. No stranger to gymnasium aeronautics, Kymane said he could throw it down, too, at a relatively young age when he grew up playing with future NBA star Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson in Gary, Indiana.
“The only problem was, I stopped growing,” the now-5-foot-10 father of Jalen said, chuckling.
Room for growth
A 6-foot-2 junior (and probably still growing), Jalen Clark is one of three key returners for Westland John Glenn, which is looking to improve on its 4-16 record in 2021-22. He’ll rejoin fellow returning starters Richard Williams and Jordan Williams this winter.
“The best way to describe this year’s team is hard working,” Clark said. “We have a lot of good leadership, too, in Richard Williams, who’s a senior and a big part of our offense and defense.
“I feel like if we play as a team, we can go far this year.”
Clark said his passion for hoops was handed down by his dad.
“I’ve been around it since I was a little kid, shooting on a Little Tikes hoop, so I can’t remember not playing,” he said. “I started playing organized rec ball in sixth grade and I loved it. It’s always been fun for me.”
His freshman high school season wiped out by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark was undeterred, joining a travel team as soon as the virus subsided.
“My breakout game in travel probably came when we were playing Mount Pleasant and I was matched up against a top player,” he recalled. “Me and him kind of went back and forth. We lost a close game, but I played pretty well.”
Clark, who prides himself on his all-around game, said his career-high (including travel ball) is 26 points while his high-point effort at Westland John Glenn last year was 19.
When he’s not studying or playing basketball — there’s a park near his home with a couple rims where he heads when he’s bored — he enjoys chilling with friends and watching his favorite sport on TV.
“My favorite player is probably Carmelo Anthony,” said Clark. “I know he’s a free agent now, but I liked how consistent he was throughout his career.”