Photo: Taylor Soule
On Nov. 5, freshman Kyndal Clark stepped on Ron Pearson Court at the Knapp Center in her Drake uniform for the first women’s basketball game of her college career.
For Drake, the 73-49 exhibition win over Quincy signaled the beginning of a new season. For Clark, the victory signaled both a new season and long-awaited NCAA dreams.
Fourteen years ago, long before she donned Drake Blue, a then 5-year-old Clark stepped onto the basketball court for the first time. The rest is history as Clark’s early love of the game translated into NCAA Division I dreams.
Her standout prep career was a stepping-stone to a college basketball career. At Webb City High School in Webb City, Mo., Clark led her team to a state championship and earned first-team all-state honors.
Though Clark’s ever-expanding list of awards adds a dynamic dimension to her career, it’s her passion for the sport that keeps her on the court.
“I just really enjoy playing, and I have the mind for the game,” she said.
With that love for the game and a knack for basketball’s intangibles, Clark looks to bring energy and determination to the point guard position.
On the court, Clark aspires to “control the game, control the tempo and try to be as effective as possible for my team. Trying to be a complete player, offensively and defensively, as best I can.”
Clark also looks to grow as a leader on the Drake women’s basketball team.
“First of all, I just look to lead by example and truly understand what the team needs from me, and always step into that role,” she said. “Just letting it come naturally instead of forcing it.”
Clark looks to her favorite Division I players for guidance. Modeling her play after Connecticut’s Maya Moore and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, Clark is already turning heads in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Clark is Drake’s top 3-point shooter, drowning 42.5 percent of her shots from behind the arc. Besides her 3-point prowess, Clark is Drake’s second leading scorer, averaging 9.8 points per game alongside 3.0 rebounds.
On the defensive front, Clark is quick to snag the ball from her opponents. She boasts a whopping 24 steals in the 2011-12 campaign.
Drake head coach Amy Stephens expects Clark to improve both as a shooter and a defender in upcoming games.
“She’s playing big minutes for us,” Stephens said. “As a young player, you want her to continue to improve not just offensively, but defensively. We’re asking a lot of her. We’re asking her to play 35 minutes.”
With several MVC Newcomer of the Week nods already on Clark’s record, Stephens can’t wait to see her young player’s continued improvement.
“Kyndal has done a great job,” Stephens said. “I’m really happy with what she’s doing, and as a young player, we just want her to continue to work hard and continue to get better every day.”
Clark’s Drake career is only four months underway, but she said that she is eager to improve for her team, herself and the Bulldog faithful in upcoming seasons.
“Hopefully, I’ll continue to grow as a player and a person, and hopefully they (the fans) will enjoy watching that,” Clark said. “I hope to bring more energy next year and continue to build this program and most importantly have fun.”