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Brad Underwood gives statement on Skyy Clark departure from Illinois basketball team

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UCLA Illinois Basketball

Illinois coach Brad Underwood talks to the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against UCLA on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball head coach Brad Underwood released a statement Friday evening about the departure of guard Skyy Clark from the Illini. 

Underwood tweeted the statement at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday. The tweet said, "We support Skyy every step of the way." 

The longer statement from Underwood said, "Skyy has made the decision to take some time away from basketball. He remains a valued part of our program and will continue to receive our full support. Skyy is a thoughtful, caring young man who right now needs to prioritize himself and his family. This is bigger than basketball. We understand that and stand with him every step of the way."

Clark tweeted a statement at 4 p.m. CT on Friday saying that he needed to "step away from basketball." 

"I want to start by saying that I Love the University of Illinois, my coaching staff, my teammates and the broader illinis [sic] community," Clark said. "I made friendships in these few short months that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. This decision has nothing to do with basketball, but it does have everything to do with prioritizing myself and my family's wellbeing.

"For personal reasons, I need to step away from basketball for the time being — putting myself and my family first. I appreciate everyone's support during this time, but please respect not only my privacy but the privacy of all those around me. Thank you and much love."

The Illinois men's basketball team is scheduled to return to action Saturday vs. Wisconsin. The game is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. CT. 

Illinois, ranked No. 24 in the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll, enters the matchup 9-5 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten. Most recently, Northwestern defeated Illinois 73-60 on Wednesday.

Wisconsin, ranked No. 14 in The Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the coaches poll, comes into the contest 11-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. On Tuesday, Wisconsin beat Minnesota 63-60.

Entering Saturday, Illinois leads the all-time series 114-90 vs. Wisconsin.

Erik Hall is the digital sports editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. You can find him on Twitter @HallErik.

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