Jaylen Clark had many exciting moments while playing basketball for Etiwanda High School, but nothing could compare to the thrill of providing UCLA with a dramatic victory on Feb. 20.
Clark, a freshman who has seen limited playing time this season, made a free throw with 1.4 seconds left to give the Bruins a wild 80-79 victory over Arizona State at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA trailed 77-70 with 3:57 remaining, but the Bruins rallied to tie the score at 79-79 and gained possession of the basketball in the final seconds.
Tyger Campbell missed a short jump shot in the lane, but Clark, who had just been inserted into the game, grabbed the rebound and was fouled while going up for a shot. Clark missed the first free throw attempt, but then he sank the second one to give UCLA its only lead of the night.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin, who earned his 400th career victory, praised Clark after the game.
“To be honest with you, the rebound was the key," Cronin told uclabruins.com. "He doesn’t stand around and watch. A lot of guys stand around and watch when Tyger [Campbell] is going to make a wide open four-footer. Jaylen’s pursuit of the ball is probably the best thing he does right now on offense. It lets him exploit his athleticism in a positive way.
"He’s a really good free throw shooter. I know he’s a freshman and all, but today’s kid, you play for Etiwanda and Centennial the way he did, he played for the Compton Magic, he’s played in big games. You can see he settled down on the second one. He is a very good free throw shooter, so I wasn’t that nervous about that."
The victory enabled UCLA to move into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 standings with a 12-3 record (16-5 overall).
Clark, a 6-foot-5 guard, has played in 20 games and has scored 38 points and pulled down 34 rebounds.
As a senior at Etiwanda in 2020, Clark averaged 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while leading the Eagles to the Baseline League championship and a 30-4 overall record. He was named an All-CIF player at Etiwanda and previously at Centennial (where he went to high school as a freshman, sophomore, and junior).