UC's Gary Clark talks about faith, basketball and what it's like to have an 8-year-old brother

We posed nine questions to the Bearcats forward
Posted at 8:00 AM, Nov 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-19 08:00:02-05

If there's one thing Gary Clark wants this basketball season, it's for the University of Cincinnati to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bearcats haven't made it past the first weekend of the Big Dance since the 6-foot-8-inch junior forward arrived on campus. Clark hopes this March is different.

Of course, there's a lot of work for UC (2-0) to do between now and potentially securing a bid. There's also a lot to learn about Clark, a North Carolina native who loves his family, fishing and manning UC's frontcourt.

Clark sat down with to answer nine questions.

How would you describe your personality?

GC: Pretty laid back. I'm outgoing as well, once you get to know me or have a conversation with me. But if you see me just walking around, I'm really quiet and (keep) to myself.

Coach (Mick Cronin) is on me at times about being too laid back, so I've really started to be more vocal, more demanding of the ball as far as basketball. At times it can be a little different for me. I can feel it being a little awkward when I do raise my voice or try to get intense, like demanding guys to bring up their energy before practice or during practice.

I've started it since the summer, so at this point guys are responding to it because they're not used to me doing it.

Are you a big social-media guy?

GC: Not really. I've got Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter, but I don't really get on to them. I post a picture every once in a while on Instagram.

Twitter, I usually stay off of during the season. Last year it was rough at times when we weren't playing well. Coach always tells us to stay off of it because when we're winning, people are behind you, but when you start losing, they start trying to point the finger and so forth.

We've learned to stay off Twitter as much as possible.

UC was picked to win the American Athletic Conference and you were among the preseason first-team selections. Now the team is No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25. What does that mean to you?

GC: It's early. It's all respect from other teams and people that voted for us.

It just puts more pressure on us to perform. That bull's-eye is bigger, because even without the ranking or being picked to win the conference, we're a team that made it to the (NCAA) Tournament. So when teams come in here to play us or we go to their arena, they're looking to beat a team that's going to be in the tournament.

We respond to pressure well as a team. We've got a lot of guys that understand how hard it is to win. It's a good respect from other people, but at the end of the day, we've just got to perform harder and better.

Who's the funniest guy on the team?

GC: Probably either Cane Broome, the transfer, or Quadri (Moore). He's sneaky funny. Cane is clever-funny and Quad is quiet. Then he'll say something and catch you off guard.

And we all just laugh at Kyle (Washington), because he's always doing something funny. He doesn't even know it. Coach is clowning him or saying something on the side, and he just doesn't realize it. We all get a kick out of that.

Greatest lesson you've learned from Coach Cronin?

GC: It probably would be, "Don't take anything for granted." He's always talking about (Sean Kilpatrick) and those guys. They were so ready to get to where they are, but now they feel like these were the best times of their lives. Because you've got all the guys on your team ready to play hard and together.

(Cronin) has really instilled in us the appreciation of playing in a program like UC's that goes to the tournament every year. There are guys that never get to experience that. This is my third year, and I went there my freshman year and my sophomore year, so that's something you can always look back on.

Just appreciating every day, being able to go out here and play this sport that a lot of people aren't blessed to play, and enjoying it while you can.

You have "God first" on your Twitter bio. Do you consider yourself religious?

GC: Yes, I am. My mother and grandmother have had me in church since I can't remember. I don't go to church much up here, but they always call me and ask me if I have been reading my Bible. I try to read as much as I can, but I don't really go to social media much (to discuss religion), because people have their views on how they want to live.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life?

GC: My mom, Tammy, because of her drive to make sure that we had everything.

When I was younger, she was a single mom. She and my dad split up for a while and she just did it all. It was us four (kids), because I have two sisters and a younger brother, who's 8. She was just able to get it done and provide for us with no help.

We didn't live near her family at the time, and my dad's family was in New York and Maryland, so for her to be able to provide and for us to be happy, it really brought us together.

I'm a mama's boy. Coach said that's where I get my laid-back and quiet demeanor from. But she's probably the most influential person because of her drive and determination to make sure that we were always happy.

What's it like to have an 8-year-old brother? 

GC: It's great. As fast as Jeremiah is growing up, it's crazy. I didn't expect to have a brother. My mom was like, "Oh, goodness. I'm getting older. Now I have this young one running around here." But he's been a blessing.

My mom talks about how we were raised and now she's doing it differently because he's spoiled. And everyone spoils him because they think he's so cute.

One of your hobbies is fishing. What do you like about it?

GC: It's just relaxing. Being out on the water takes me away from everything -- the stresses of school, and if I'm not playing well, and family. I'm able to go out there and be in my own world.

When we went to the Bahamas (in August of 2014), me, Farad (Cobb) and Zack (Tobler) went out and ocean fished. I did not have success at all. When we go to these ponds right here, me and Zack catch all the fish. But then when we go to the ocean, Farad catches all the fish.

I definitely like lakes and ponds to fish, because you have a little more control over how you want to bait your fish in or make your lure dance. And on the ocean you're just trolling. Your bait is just running through water and hopefully your line is the one that the fish gets.