NCAA Basketball: Alabama A&M at Illinois

Illinois guard Skyy Clark is stepping away for personal reasons after appearing in 13 games this season, the freshman announced Friday. Clark entered this season as the highest-ranked prospect in Illinois' 2022 recruiting class, which ranked No. 7 nationally, according to 247Sports.

"I want to start by saying that I love the University of Illinois, my coaching staff, my teammates and the broader Illinois community," wrote Clark in a message posted to social media. "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," he continued. "I appreciate everyone's support during this time, but please respect not only my privacy but the privacy of all those around me."

Illinois coach Brad Underwood said in a statement that Clark "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," Underwood said. "This is bigger than basketball. We understand that and stand with him every step of the way."

Clark departs averaging 7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while playing 24.5 minutes per contest for the Illini, who are 9-5 (0-3 Big Ten) and struggling after a 6-1 start that saw the program rise to No. 16 in the AP Top 25. Amid Clark's absence, Sencire Harris could play a greater role. The freshman earned his first two starts in Illinois' last two two games as Clark's role decreased.

When Clark signed with Illinois as the No. 34 ranked player in the 2022 class, he became the program's fifth-highest rated signee of all time.