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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Mick Cronin: "Gary's a grinder. Grinders tend to go overlooked and undrafted."

Posted: October 16, 2018 -- 2:52 p.m.

The American Athletic Conference held its annual Basketball Media Day Monday, October 15, in Philadelphia. I spoke with Cincinnati Bearcats men's basketball head coach, Mick Cronin, about Houston Rockets rookie forward Gary Clark. Coach Cronin coached Clark when Gary attended Cincinnati the past four years.

Read what Coach Cronin said about Gary Clark:

"He's like a younger brother. He's such a good person. We're all so close with him. His success is not surprising for two reasons: one, he's in a great place and the pros is all about fit. You've got to be in a system that fits you and a team that needs whatever type player you are. And, they have to have a need for a guy like you. The Rockets are, obviously, trying to win a title. They don't have time for guys that don't know what they're doing.

"Gary Clark knows what he's doing. I've watched Coach D'Antoni's clips about 'Gary's solid.' Yeah. And, you're not going to have to tell him 17 times how a play is run. You tell Gary once he'll be the guy telling the other guys how to run the play. He's just a winner. And, he can make open shots which is perfect in their system. The guys he's playing with are so good he's wide open. I watched a couple of their preseason games.

"And, he's a versatile defender. And, he understands what a coach wants from him. A lot of young players struggle with that. At all levels. We complain about with the freshmen. I'm sure the pro guys complain about it with their rookies. But, Gary Clark's an old soul. You'll never have any problems with him and knowing what the coaches need from him. He already knows before they tell him. He knows that his job on that Rockets team is to make shots if he's wide open; play defense; and rebound."

Were you surprised he went undrafted?

"Oh yeah. But, I wasn't shocked because the way pro draft goes it's all about potential. It's so much about potential and upside. Gary is Player of the Year in our league; but, Jacob Evans from our team goes in the first round because he's 6'6" and he's a bouncy athlete and makes a player here or there that makes you think he's got great upside. And, I think he does; and, I hope the Warriors are right because I love Jacob. But, Gary doesn't do things that are sexy. Gary's a grinder. Grinders tend to go overlooked and undrafted. Much like P.J. Tucker who plays for the Rockets. But, water always finds its level. It's an interesting thing in life; and, I think it's the same with players. If Gary can stay healthy, he's a 10-year NBA player because he's going to help somebody win games. In whatever role you give him, he'll accept it."

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