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Skyy Clark releases statement regarding decision to leave Illinois program

NS_headshot_clearbackgroundby:Nick Schultz01/06/23

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Skyy Clark has released a statement after a report surfaced — and On3’s Joe Tipton confirmed — he was stepping away from the Illinois program. The former top-50 recruit confirmed it wasn’t a basketball decision.

Clark, who’s started 12 of the 13 games in which he’s appeared, cited personal reasons for his departure. He also said he’s putting his family ahead of his basketball career and that’s the driving force behind the decision to leave the program mid-season.

“I want to start by saying that I Love the University of Illinois, my coaching staff, my teammates and the broader [Illini] community,” Clark wrote on his Twitter Friday afternoon. “I made friendships in these few short months that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. This decision has nothing to do with basketball, but it does have everything to do with prioritizing myself and my family’s wellbeing.

“For personal reasons, I need to step away from basketball for the time being — putting myself and my family first. I appreciate everyone’s support during this time, but please respect not only my privacy but the privacy of all those around me.”

Illinois coach Brad Underwood voiced his support for Clark, as well.

“Skyy has made the decision to take some time away from basketball,” Underwood said in a statement. “He remains a valued part of our program and will continue to receive our full support. Skyy is a thoughtful, caring young man who right now needs to prioritize himself and his family. This is bigger than basketball. We understand that and stand with him every step of the way.”

Skyy Clark was a key piece of Illinois’ recruiting class this year

Clark, who played high school basketball at Monteverde Academy in California, garnered plenty of hype on the recruiting trail. He arrived in Champaign as a four-star recruit and the nation’s No. 37 overall player from the 2022 cycle, according to the On3 Consensus, a complete and equally weighted industry-generated average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.

The former Kentucky commit is averaging 7.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 2.1 assists per game as a freshman for the Fighting Illini.

Illinois is in the midst of an 9-5 start to the season, most recently losing to in-state rival Northwestern in Evanston for its third conference loss. The Fighting Illini are scheduled to take the court again Saturday when they head to Wisconsin.