When Martez Clark was in high school, he wasn't on his basketball team. He tried out but didn't make it. Then how did he end up playing in college?
Thanks to the National High School Basketball Association.
The NHSBA was founded in Arkansas in 2006 by Deuntate Copeland. The idea was to give kids an avenue to improve their basketball skills, while also helping them become better people. The NHSBA focuses on academics, mentoring and providing kids with career options, in addition to hoops.
Recently, the NBA Players Association Foundation awarded the NHSBA with a $10,000 grant. It wasn't the NHSBA's first encounter with the league. When he was with the Grizzlies, Chandler Parsons visited kids in the program in Little Rock, where he told the local press, " These coaches are great, this organization is great."
Clark, who was playing in a Boys Club league at the time, got involved with the organization in 2017. "The lesson I learned was, No matter your age or color, no talent is left behind," says Clark. "The coaches are going to find a spot for you. If you're not a great scorer, they'll turn you into a great defensive player. They break the game down for you and let you know you don't have to score 30 or 20 points."
For Clark, being a great defensive player led him to Williams Baptist University, an NAIA school in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. After impressing at a tryout, he was awarded a scholarship.
At 5'9", Clark isn't going to blow anyone away with his size. So instead he works hard and is tenacious. "I'm an irritant to the person with the ball," he says. "I try to model my game on [Clippers guard] Patrick Beverley and Kevin Garnett."
Like most players, Clark has big hoop dreams—but he also knows they might not come true. So he has a backup plan. "Hopefully I'll go overseas and play basketball," he says. "But my Plan B is to own my own clothing line."
Whether he ends up on the court or the fashion world, the skills he picked up as part of the NHSBA will help him on his amazing journey. "It's great," Clark says of the organization. "They teach you to respect your teammates and teach you to respect authority on and off the court, and the teach you teamwork. Most kids get discouraged when they don't play school ball. But with this program, they let you get a second chance."