One of the top players in American college basketball, Terrence Clarke, has tragically died following a car accident in Los Angeles today, aged just 19.
The Kentucky guard had been in Los Angeles preparing for the NBA draft, where he was expected to be a first-round lottery pick.
The university announced Clarke’s death in a release this afternoon, but did not include any more details.
Coach John Calipari said he was “absolutely gutted and sick tonight” and called the player “a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy.”
“We are all in shock,” Calipari said.
"I am on my way to Los Angeles to be with his mother and his brother to help wherever I can.
"This will be a difficult period for all those who know and love Terrence, and I would ask that everyone take a moment tonight to say a prayer for Terrence and his family. May he rest in peace.”
Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant John Matassa, who works in the Valley Traffic Division, told ESPN that Clarke was a solo occupant in a vehicle that ran a red light going “at a very high rate of speed” in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles at approximately 2:10 p.m. local time.
Matassa said surveillance video showed that Clarke collided with another vehicle preparing to turn left, hit a street light pole and then a block wall. Clarke was taken to Northridge Hospital Medical and later pronounced dead.
Clarke was not wearing his seat belt properly, according to Matassa.
Former Breakers guard R.J. Hampton, who now plays for the Orlando Magic, tweeted Clarke's death did not feel real.
"Just talked to you yesterday bro this dont feel real. Rest in Paradise my brother T man."
The 6-foot-7 Clarke entered the NBA draft last month after playing in just eight games last season because of a right leg injury. He averaged 9.6 points and 2.6 rebounds.
Yesterday, Clarke and former Kentucky teammate Brandon Boston Jr. signed with Klutch Sports Group.
Agency CEO Rich Paul announced on Twitter that “we are saddened and devastated” by Clarke's passing and called him "an incredibly hard-working young man."
From Boston, Clarke started Kentucky’s first six games and was one of its top scorers, highlighted by a career-best 22 points in a loss to Georgia Tech on December 6.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens heard reports about the crash and Clarke’s death shortly after his team beat the Phoenix Suns today.
Clarke was familiar to the Celtics, their players and even Stevens’ son.
“Not sure how much I want to talk about the game, when you consider he’s a Boston kid ... those kids are important to us here,” Stevens said.
“I never met him. My son looks up to him. Hard to talk about a basketball game.”