Former Kentucky men’s basketball player Terrence Clarke, who declared for the NBA Draft in March, died in a car crash in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 19.
Clarke was leaving a workout when the crash occurred about 5:10 p.m. ET (2:10 p.m. PT), a sergeant in the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division told Lexington, Ky., television station WKYT.
According to the sergeant, Clarke was traveling at a high rate of speed on Winnetka Avenue when he drove through a red light and crashed his vehicle into a car that was turning left. Clarke’s car then struck a pole and a block wall. The sergeant added that Clarke was not wearing his seat belt properly and was alone in his vehicle.
Clarke was transported to Northridge Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he was “absolutely gutted and sick” after learning about Clarke’s death.
“A young person who we all love has just lost his life too soon, one with all of his dreams and hopes ahead of him,” Calipari said in a prepared statement. “Terrence Clarke was a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy. People gravitated to him, and to hear we have lost him is just hard for all of us to comprehend right now. We are all in shock.”
Calipari said that he was on his way to Los Angeles to be with Clarke’s mother and brother.
The 6-7 Clarke joined Kentucky last season after completing his prep career at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. The Boston native was rated a five-star prospect out of high school. He averaged 9.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in his lone collegiate season. A leg injury limited him to eight games.
Clarke signed with Klutch Sports Group, LeBron James’ representation team, on Wednesday. Klutch CEO Rich Paul confirmed Clarke’s death to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday night.
“He was an incredible, hard-working young man. He was excited for what was ahead of him and ready to fulfill his dreams,” Paul said in a statement to Wojnarowski.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was shaken after seeing an early, unconfirmed report.
“Those kids are important to us here and even though I never met him, my son looks up to him,” Stevens said, per The Boston Globe, after the Celtics’ game vs. the Suns. “It’s hard to talk about a basketball game with even the idea that that’s floating out there. I pray that that’s not true, but, yeah. Sorry.”
Another former Kentucky player, Brandon Boston, reportedly was driving in a separate vehicle behind Clarke’s car at the time of the crash. Boston had worked out with Clarke on Thursday. A source told the Los Angeles Daily News that Boston was “OK.” Boston is also a recent Klutch client.