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Skyy Clark stepping away from Illinois men’s basketball | Sports

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CHAMPAIGN — Illinois men’s basketball freshman Skyy Clark is stepping away from the sport for personal reasons, he announced Friday afternoon via social media.

“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 Twitter. “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 well-being.

“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 shared a statement on Twitter addressing Clark’s situation.

“Skyy has made the decision to take some time away from basketball. He remains a valued part of our program and will continue to receive full support,” Underwood wrote. “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.”

Illini Guys’ Kedric Prince and On3Sports’ Joe Tipton each cited unnamed sources when reporting Friday that Clark is leaving coach Underwood’s program.

Clark returned to the court for Illinois in Wednesday’s 73-60 loss to Northwestern following a one-game absence because of a shoulder injury, coming off the bench to produce two points, three rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes of action.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Los Angeles native out of Florida’s Montverde Academy has started in 12 of the Illini’s 14 games this season, averaging the third-most minutes on the team at April 24.

Clark also is averaging 7.0 points on 41.1 percent shooting from the field, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists for Illinois.

The former four-star prospect originally gave a verbal commitment to Kentucky before decommitting from the Wildcats and providing a pledge to the Illini in April 2022. His younger brother, three-star Class of 2024 guard ZZ Clark, decommitted from Illinois last October after committing to Illinois around the same time as his sibling.

Clark’s on-court absence likely will lead to more minutes for fellow freshman guards Sencire Harris and Jayden Epps. Both have played in all 14 games this season, but they’ve combined to make just three starts.

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

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