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Tall Tale

By Annie Krakower

Will Clark

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Will Clark went to 2017’s Maryland Madness, one of the UMD basketball teams’ preseason fan events, and joked with friends about sneaking into the men’s layup line.

He passed on the prank then, but one year later, he was doing the drill alongside Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith as his pals cheered from the stands.

During Clark’s junior year, Head Coach Mark Turgeon’s Terps were looking to add some height, the 6-foot-8-inch club player measured up, and now the walk-on is living the dream of just about any club athlete.

“It was a little bit intimidating,” Clark says of joining the team, “but it was pretty awesome just to see it all up close and be a part of it.”

A Baltimore native, Clark grew up a UMD fan and remembers his dad listening to games on the radio as former Head Coach Gary Williams ’68 led the Terps. He played varsity ball at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Md., where the competition included future Maryland teammates Smith and Darryl Morsell. He wanted to attend a big university, but accepted that he wouldn’t make a Division I roster.

Once Clark arrived at Maryland, he didn’t leave basketball behind. He played pickup at the Eppley Recreation Center and joined the club team his sophomore year. A couple of practices into his junior season, Drew Tawiah, the club president, plucked Clark out of the lineup. He was the only athlete there to meet a call from Turgeon’s team for a player at least 6 feet, 7 inches tall.

Before the tryout, though, he had to adjust his class schedule to make time for practice and prove he’d mesh in the locker room.

“I really wanted to get to know who he was before I watched him dribble, pass or shoot,” says Mark Bialkoski, men’s basketball’s director of operations. “His ability to take in information quickly was really important to us. Coaches aren’t gonna pause practice in order for you to catch up.”

Clark passed the tests on and off the court, and before he knew it, he was guarding Smith, getting tips from Fernando and teaming up with Eric Ayala.

“I think one of my roommates was actually more excited than me,” Clark says. “Like, he called his parents about it.”

Playing in practice with the scout team and warming the bench aren’t glamorous. The forward totaled just four minutes over three appearances in his first season. But Clark is relishing an opportunity very few get—and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

“He’s been quietly a really, really good addition to our program,” Bialkoski says. “He knows where to be, when to be, how to be there. Those things helped our team tremendously.”

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.