Four years ago, he made one of the best passes in NCAA tournament history. Today, he’s on the other side of the fence.
Jalen Slawson, star of the 13th-seeded Furman Paladins, himself couldn’t believe what happened in the dying seconds of their first round matchup against the No. 4 seed Virginia Cavaliers in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Manila time.
“He just freaking threw it,” Slawson was heard saying on his way to the dugout after the game. He was pertaining to Virginia guard and Filipino-American Kihei Clark’s turnover in the final seconds.
Up 67-65 with 12.3 seconds left in the game, Clark inbounded the ball and immediately got it back in the face of the Paladins’ full court press.
With a double team coming his way, Clark tried to maneuver to safety—only to get trapped in the corner. He picked up his dribble, eyed for a teammate, and jumped to throw the ball downcourt as he was going out of bounds.
The pass was way off. Furman’s Garret Hien intercepted the pass, then passed to teammate JP Pegues, who knocked down a three for the lead. Game. Upset done.
It’s easy to see why Slawson was so confused—because Clark is a leader for Virginia and one of the best guards in the tournament. He is, after all, the all-time winningest player in the Atlantic Coast Conference or ACC, one of the toughest regions in the country that’s also home to Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels.
Also, four years ago, Clark is the man behind this beautiful, clutch dime in this elite eight game against Purdue Boilermakers.
Clark and the Hoos eventually won that game to advance to the Final Four, on their way to their first NCAA championship.
The 5-foot-10 guard also has individual accolades to flaunt. He was named to the All-ACC third team in his sophomore season, and was All-ACC Honorable Mention twice.
Now, Clark is responsible for one of the best and worst passes in March Madness history. But don’t forget that he has been a rock for Virginia in all of his five years.