Freshman point guard Kihei Clark has been a bit of a revelation for Virginia basketball this season. However, this week came with some unfortunate news. After suffering a hairline fracture in his left wrist (non-shooting hand), Clark played in the comeback win over VCU. With a cast on, Clark scored nine points (7-of-7 FTA) and handed out four assists.
Now, Clark will miss some time after undergoing surgery on Monday — the day after the VCU game. UVA coach Tony Bennett addressed the surgery during his radio show:
It went well. We’re hopeful for him.We don’t have a timeline exactly.It will be when, how he heals and everything comes together, but we’re always hoping sooner than later.
According to Bennett, Virginia will monitor Clark’s recover process on a day-to-day basis.
#UVA men's basketball point guard Kihei Clark had surgery on his injured left wrist on Monday. Cavalier head coach Tony Bennett provided an update on the standout true freshman during his Coach's Corner radio show Monday night. https://t.co/3x66oLuJYT
— The Sabre (@thesabre) December 11, 2018
Virginia has three more games between now and the start of ACC play on Jan. 5 against powerful Florida State: South Carolina, William & Mary and Marshall. All three of those opponents currently rank outside the top 100 in KenPom.
That said, Clark has been a really valuable player so far this season. He’s been a vitamin boost for the Cavaliers on offense. Clark’s shooting numbers (30.4 3P%, 45.4 eFG%) won’t blow anyone away; however, his ability to create off the bounce and locate easy shots for his teammates is special.
Virginia has incorporate a few more pick-and-rolls into the offense with Clark, who can attack from up high or while curling off a pindown screen into the middle of the lane. UVA has scored 1.36 points per possession (80.6 eFG%) when Clark has been a passer (6.6 assists per 100 possessions) in pick-and-roll plays. His slashing style also allows Ty Jerome to get off the ball. That’s a good thing for UVA; Jerome (43.1 3P%) is a wonderful movement shooter.
On the defensive side of the floor, Clark’s ball pressure has been an early constant, too. He can help extend Virginia’s defense and look for steals (2.5 percent steal rate).
With Clark on the sideline, Virginia will need more from Braxton Key and Marco Anthony. Of course, Jerome is an excellent point guard; he can take on more playmaking duties in the short-term, too.