WATCH: Jaylen Clark On Teammates’ Steals, UCLA’s Connections to USC

Clark leads the Pac-12 in steals per game, but there are four other Bruins who rank inside the conference’s top 20.

UCLA men’s basketball guard Jaylen Clark spoke to reporters ahead of Wednesday morning’s practice at the Mo Ostin Center. Clark talked about what has made the Bruins’ offense so efficient, how his teammates have followed in his footsteps of going all-out for steals, the improved communication on the court during the winning streak and the personal connections he has on the USC side of Thursday’s rivalry game.

Are you surprised at how good and how efficient you guys have been on offense and what do you think has gone into that?

Just more ball movement. We have a lot of guys that can hit shots at a high rate. We were just talking about it yesterday with Dave – this last week I had a slower offensive week, I was missing a lot of shots I normally make, but people like Dave, Adem all pick it up. And we take smart shots, so I feel like we move the ball, take smart shots, shoot a high percentage.

How do you get your shot falling again?

Oh I’m good, it’s just being here every day, stuff like that. I was missing layups and stuff I don’t miss often, so it was all good.

What can you say about the collective effort for steals as a team?

That’s the easiest way to score, every time. If you want six easy points, go ahead and hop out there cause then you’re 1-on-1 or all by yourself often, that’s how I find myself all by myself most of the time. So you want some extra points, play some defense if the ball’s coming your way.

Where have you guys grown the most in these last 10 games?

Uh, defensively, for sure. I feel like seeing us in Vegas to any game now looks completely different on that end.

In what sense – what have you guys done better?

Uh, talking, communicating. It helps a lot when – it helps a lot when everybody’s finally getting under the system and knows where to be. We don’t gotta necessarily pull and make sure somebody’s in the right spot. Like, all the younger guys already know ‘I gotta be there,’ if you know what I mean, so everything just flows smoothly.

Being a local high school product, how much does this rivalry mean to you? How much do you want to win tomorrow?

Oh, it means everything. A lot of the guys, we all played with each other growing up. Me and Malik Thomas’ dads, it’s like this, they’re on the phone every day. So, I mean, it is just fun. We get some bragging rights and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to win a championship, so we need every game that we play, regardless of if it’s SC or Oregon State, it’s all the same.

Do you know who you’re guarding in this game?

Oh, I don’t know yet, I don’t know yet. I always try to take whoever’s the best player though, so.

How far back does your relationship with Malik go?

Sheesh, I’ve known Malik since I was, like 10.

Through basketball?

Yeah, I’ve known Malik a long time. Like, my dad was just at his dad’s all-white birthday party while we were in Washington. So yeah, it goes far back. Reese played on Compton Magic with us. I’ve seen Tre, I know him and Amari are like best friends, so it’s a whole bunch of history throughout both teams.

Would you say your dads take the rivalry a little more seriously?

Oh yeah. Yeah, for sure. They already – they stopped calling each other for the week and all that, probably, knowing them. So yeah.

Bummed that this game’s being played when the students aren’t here?

No, I think it’s still gonna be crazy. I don’t think the date matters, I know if you come here, that’s the game everybody wants to go to, regardless of whether it’s football or basketball. When you see the school from down south, you know what time it is.

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