Johnny Clark knows a thing or two about basketball, particularly when it comes to shooting it.
Clark, a native of Columbus and a graduate of Bishop Hartley High School, most recently was the head coach for the Lechugueros de Leon Basketball Club in the LNBP, the top men’s professional basketball league in Mexico. But due to financial problems with the organization, Clark left the team in mid-November and returned to Columbus.
Once back in the Capital City, Clark began working with Ohio State senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. following the American University game on Nov. 20.
In his first four games this season, Smith Jr. averaged 9.5 points per contest and hit 44.4 percent (12-27) from the field, 41.2 percent (7-17) from three-point range. But under Clark’s tutelage, Smith Jr. has scored in double figures eight of the last nine outings while averaging 15.1 points per game. He’s also hit 43-of-77 (55.8%) from the floor and 18-of-39 (46.2%) from beyond the arc.
That’s a marked improvement.
Clark has been stressing the importance of fakes and footwork in his one-on-one training with Lenzelle. In a recent game on national television, ESPN analyst and former college head coach Dan Dakich stated, “Lenzelle Smith has the best shot-fake in college basketball.”
With both Clark and Smith Jr. being lefties, this likely helps in his teaching with Smith Jr., just like it did in Clark’s off-season training with former OSU stars Michael Redd and Mike Conley. Because of this niche, Clark has planned upcoming spring and summer Shooting and Offensive Skills Camps for high school and middle school left-handers.
“Lenzelle came in, worked hard and was receptive to my drills and teaching,” Clark said. “That’s why he’s had the recent success that he’s had shooting the ball. And ultimately, not only does that help him individually, it translates into the Buckeyes’ team success.”
In addition to Redd and Conley, Clark has also trained several other former Buckeyes including Evan Turner, Katie Smith, Jim Jackson, Chris Jent, Dennis Hopson, Dallas Lauderdale and Scoonie Penn, as well as former Central Ohio stars Gary Trent, Antonio Daniels, Calvin Booth, and current Utah Jazz Rookie of the Year candidate Trey Burke.
Jackson, now an analyst with BTN, was the fourth pick overall in the 1992 NBA Draft and was also Clark’s first “official” client. Jackson entered the league as the reigning NCAA Player of the Year, but there were questions about his perimeter shooting as he moved from the small forward position in college to the shooting guard in the pros. He left the Association 14 seasons later with 881 career three-pointers and was known as one of the top shooters in the league.
With the recognition of the on-court work he did with Redd in his return from two ACL injuries, Clark has recently been contacted by the representatives of two prominent NBA stars who have recently been injured requesting the use of his services to aid in their return to the court. Coming off significant knee injuries, these players know they may not have the same explosiveness and athleticism to their game, putting a premium on their ability to take and make perimeter jump shots.
For more information on Clark and his services, go to Jump25.com.