Masters coach revels in March Madness success
May 10, 2022
When St. Peters University stunned the world, making history as the first 15 seed to ever reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA March Madness tournament, one Masters community member beamed with pride, not surprised in the least.
Keydren Clark is head coach of the Masters boys varsity basketball team, and has been for three years. Before that, he worked as a Teacher’s Aide at Masters, too, assisting faculty members with academic classes. Over the last month, Clark has seen success, unanticipated by many, from his alma mater: St. Peter’s University in New Jersey.
In the first round of the tournament, matched up against a powerhouse, St. Peters shocked bracketologists and college ball fans when they upset number two seed, the University of Kentucky, defeating the Wildcats 85-79. The Peacocks went on to defeat Murray State and become the first 15 seed to make it to the Sweet Sixteen round of the tournament, and beat out number five seed Purdue to continue their streak into the Elite Eight. Though the team lost to UNC in the Elite Eight, their “Cinderella” story sent shockwaves through the NCAA sphere.
Clark has been watching the Peacocks closely since his graduation in 2006, and when he watched them “knock off Kentucky” this year, he said it was special for him and knew it was going to be a special run for the team, too.
“When I was [at St. Peter’s], we had the opportunity to play against schools like Florida and Pitt, and we always came up short, but seeing them beat Kentucky, one of the best schools in history, that was monumental for me,” Clark said.
When Keydren Clark took to the court for the third time ever in his college basketball career, he felt powerful. He was ready to prove his ability and make a name for himself as a Division-I point guard fresh out of high school.
The game proved more influential to Clark’s path than he imagined. Clark scored 48 points and came in with stats of 10/16 three-pointers. What’s more: it was only the beginning.
Clark went on to accumulate 3,058 points during his college career, averaging 25.9 points a game. At the end of his senior year in 2006, Clark held the record for the most three-point shots made in NCAA history, at 435. He finished school at number six on the ranking for all-time NCAA scoring leaders. He joined the only other seven players in NCAA history at the time to score over 3,000 career points.
As a prolific point guard at St. Peters, Clark explained the responsibilities he felt toward his teammates on the court, game in and game out, as he grew to be a leader for the program.
“As the point guard of the team, you’re like the engine of everything,” he said. “As the point guard of the team, you’re like the engine of everything.”” — Keydren Clark“
“As the point guard of the team, you’re like the engine of everything.””
— Keydren Clark
Using his talents and experience in college, Clark noted how smooth he felt the transition to coaching basketball was for him. He said he had learned to see the court from above, given that he had to know where everyone belonged on the court as a point-guard.
“It’s about seeing the game as a whole and being able to call out plays that attack the weak links in the defense, which is a natural thing for me.”
Junior Charlie Cooper is an avid college and professional basketball fan. He also played under Clark this year as a member of the boys’ varsity basketball team. Cooper said he was delighted to have a connection to St. Peters through his coach. He would text Clark excitedly about the winning team, and in return receive videos from Clark, who was watching the games in-person.
He said, “I knew Coach Clark was a mid-major legend in college basketball, and when they beat Kentucky, I realized oh my god, Coach Clark went to St. Peters.”
As Cooper watched the Peacock’s historic run, he noticed similarities between the plays St. Peters made and the plays Clark had made him and his teammates run in games in the Fonseca Center Gym. He noticed the coaching skills Clark had imparted upon the team right on the TV screen he was watching.
Cooper said, “Coach Clark helped me rekindle my love for basketball.”