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Power forward dribbling where family has trod

By Perry King

February 23, 2014

Neighbourhoods: Hillcrest / Regal Heights / Allenby / Wychwood Park

Originally published in our Toronto Today (Midtown) print edition(s).

Brody Clarke is one of the better power forwards in Toronto high school basketball, and he follows in the footsteps of a basketball family.

His father, Norman, played for Team Canada in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His mother, Natalie, is in the Laurentian University Hall of Fame for basketball. His brother, Julian, is a senior at Santa Clara University in California.

Brody has a lot on his plate. Between studying for exams and filling out university applications, he is looking to help his high school team, Oakwood Barons, win OFSAA for the first time since 2010 — when Julian was the starting point guard.

Brody may have a lot of history to answer to, but the 6-foot-7, 17-year-old is taking the attention and the pressure in stride.

Speaking after a recent home game against East York Goliaths, Brody maintains a short-term focus: finishing out the TDSSAA season with a perfect record, and being ready when OFSAA begins in March.

“Yeah, I feel some pressure for sure, but I think it’s natural because for the past three years we’ve always been top five in Ontario, so there’s always pressure to perform,” said Brody, who scored 14 points against East York.

Julian has been there.

He knows what it’s like to see scouts at almost every game, and then have teams put in extra effort against the Barons. He figures Brody has been handling the challenge with maturity and discipline.

“I don’t want to speak on what his goals should be, necessarily, but I would love to see him win OFSAA,” Julian said in email correspondence from California. “To me, that was far and away the crowning achievement of my high school basketball experience, and to see Brody win and feel that same euphoric feeling of being at the top of the mountain would be absolutely amazing.

“I’m always rooting for Oakwood, and even more so for Brody.”

The Clarkes and basketball have a symbiotic bond.

The game has opened up for each family member opportunities they believe they wouldn’t have found without it. For Julian, who is studying neuroscience, it is the greatest escape from the rest of the world.

“On the basketball court everything else in life stands still, and you just get to go out and compete and enjoy yourself,” he said. “Collectively, I think basketball has formed a great bond between Brody and I, one that is both competitive and supportive.

“I’m very excited to see how the rest of his year turns out and what his plans are for the future.”

Brody has plenty of time to consider his options, but he’s hungry to add an OFSAA win to his resume.

“I know my dad never accomplished the OFSAA goal, but my brother did,” he said. “Over the last three years, we’ve built a core that is capable of doing it.”

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