While many college sportsmen play to meet the requirements of their athletic scholarships, Waves senior forward Gus Clardy did it for the love of the game. Receiving a full academic scholarship to Seaver College after high school, Clardy scored a walk-on spot on the basketball team his freshman year and soared in both athletics and academics. Throughout his four-year basketball career, he also made the NABC Honors Court, the WCC All-Academic team, and the WCC Commissioner’s Honor Roll—accolades that placed him among the ranks of the Clardy lineage at Pepperdine.
With the culmination of his college career and a return to his regular, postseason life, Clardy will soon begin to shift gears and court his passion beyond the buzzer. After graduating this spring, the Nacogdoches, TX, native will follow in his father’s footsteps to Pepperdine's School of Law and exercise his talents on another playing field.
In this interview, the small-town boy talks about his post-college plans, predictions for the future of Waves basketball, and how he earned a top score on one of the toughest standardized tests the morning before a big match.
You almost didn’t make it onto the team. How did you finally score a spot on the Waves?
I sent the coaches a highlight reel at the beginning of my senior year of high school, but they had already filled up all of the spots. I introduced myself to them during a campus visit to see my brother Blake ('09), a Seaver student at the time, and we exchanged numbers. As I was driving out to Malibu to start at Seaver myself, one of the assistant coaches asked me to come out and play open gym with them. They let me know a couple weeks later that I had made the team.
What was the highlight of your basketball career at Pepperdine?
One of my favorite things about my basketball experience is the conversations I would have with my dad after every game. He watched every single one, whether he was listening to Al’s broadcast or it was streaming on the Internet, and always gave good advice. I also have good memories of all of my friends coming out for the home games. Always having them in the crowd was a really good feeling.
Does athleticism run in the family?
Definitely. Both my father and granddad played basketball at Abilene Christian University for a few years, but my mom grew up playing tennis and basketball in high school and was an all-American tennis player at ACU. Her father was a tennis coach for Tyler Junior College and at the University of Texas at Tyler, so athletics are definitely in my blood. My three brothers and I played tennis and basketball in high school, too.
You briefly left the team your freshman year during the coaching shift. Why did you make that decision?
It was a very difficult one. The coaching shift was a strange situation and there was a lot of dissention on the team, but my leaving had had a lot to do with being overwhelmed by what was going on while trying to maintain my GPA to keep my academic scholarship. I felt my grades slipping, so I made the decision to focus on my studies.
Do you plan on playing basketball after college?
No. I felt like my body went through four years of wear and tear and was falling apart. I entertained the thought of going to Europe and playing over there, but I will go to law school next year.
Your father is a civil litigation lawyer in Texas. How has his career influenced your legal aspirations?
I’ve always been around my dad’s office, and my older brother is at the University of Chicago Law School school right now, so my family’s law background has definitely influenced me. I never really thought about a career in law until this year. I definitely want to pursue a law degree, but I’m not sure if I want to practice. I’ve also been influenced by classes I’ve taken here like Great Books, history, and economics that have been geared towards that method of thinking where you sort through information, conduct research, and develop an argument to form some type of thesis.
You drove straight from the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), on which you scored in the 97th percentile, to play at an away game that same night. What was that like?
I kind of thought it wouldn’t happen. I signed up for the test a month in advance, told the coach, and thought I wouldn’t have to play the game that night. I thought that they would be fine without me. I woke up at 7 a.m. to take the test, and when I came out after finishing five hours later, one of the assistant coaches was waiting there to take me to Fresno—a five-hour drive—for an away game. It was my second time taking the test. I scored a 169, so I was pretty happy about that.
What do the players have to look forward to with Coach Wilson next year?
I think coach Wilson is going to do a great job. I’ve gotten to know him over the last three years, and just knowing that he went to Pepperdine and knows the program and university very well makes me confident that he’s a good fit. I think the players will adjust to a faster style of playing. He’s going to make them work pretty hard, which is a great thing. They should look forward to good things.
What are your predictions for the team after you graduate?
We all came together as a team towards the end of this season and really became a cohesive group. We went through some strange things, lost a few players, and had a tough record to follow. We went through a lot of adversity this year, but the players that are still going to be on the team next year really bonded over those struggles. I think they’re going to play really well together and that next year, they’ll come into it with a solid core group of guys and have a lot to build on.
What advice do you have for incoming freshman basketball players?
Keep a positive attitude. Listen to the coaches—they know what they are talking about. I always tried to do what was best for the team and put them first. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your individual struggles or whatever is going on in your personal life, but you are ultimately part of a team and that’s why you play.