By Ty Parker
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
If you asked most Big 12 forwards what the definition of a solid defensive possession is, they would likely say one that ends in a blocked shot, possession of the ball, and an outlet to start the break.
If you asked Clark Lammert, however, he would say one that ends with a whistle, his body on the ground, and his teammates rushing over to his aid.
Lammert, a senior forward for Texas Tech, has made a habit of ending opponents’ possessions by sacrificing his body and taking charges. In fact, he is among the Big 12 leaders in charges drawn this year and it’s not by accident.
“This season I’ve worked on trying to become a better defender,” Lammert said. “I really focus on help defense and taking charges. If someone on our team gets beat off the dribble, they know I’m going to be there. They rely on me to have their back.”
Lammert, listed at 6-7 and 210 pounds, gives up a considerable amount of size to nearly every Big 12 forward he faces. Having the ability to anticipate the play and get into position is important, but being willing to take the hit to help his team is what separates Lammert from others.
“You definitely have to have that mindset,” Lammert said. “Getting in there and getting run over by a 250 pound guy hurts, but it never hurts when you get the call.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt the Red Raiders either, now in head coach Tubby Smith’s second season.
Smith has built a talented, albeit young team in Lubbock that features seven newcomers including three true freshmen in the starting lineup. With such a young nucleus surrounding him, Lammert has embraced the leadership role that comes with being a senior.
“I feel a sense of responsibility towards those guys,” Lammert said. “I’ve always had guys who have come before me. Every senior I have been with in my career has really led the team, so now it’s my turn. All the guys look towards me as the leader, and it’s my job to try to help them as they progress and as they grow this season.
The underclassmen on Texas Tech’s basketball roster aren’t the only youngsters Lammert inspires. Far from it, actually.
Last year, Lammert started the Red Raider Reach program, an organized community outreach program that sends Texas Tech student-athletes to nearby UMC Children’s Hospital and Covenant Children’s Hospital to visit with kids suffering from cancer or other various illnesses.
The program schedules two of Texas Tech’s 17 athletic teams to the hospitals each month. The Red Raider baseball team, which advanced to the 2014 College World Series for the first time in school history, was the first team to participate in September.
“I worked with Kirby Hocutt, our athletic director, and Chloe Barnes, our director of student-athlete affairs,” Lammert said. “They’ve both been instrumental in helping me implement this program. It’s something I really wanted to do to show how active our student-athletes are in the community and how much they really care about this community because Lubbock supports our athletes and supports Texas Tech. We wanted to show that our student-athletes really do care about this community and want to give back.
“Both of the hospitals are blocks from campus and have a lot of kids that spend weeks at a time in a hospital undergoing cancer treatments or treatments for other illnesses. To have Texas Tech student-athletes come visit them gives them a lot of hope and makes them realize they aren’t going through this journey alone.”
Lammert drew inspiration for the Red Raider Reach program from an emotional moment on ESPN’s ESPY Awards last summer when broadcasting legend, now recently deceased, Stuart Scott, delivered his unforgettable acceptance speech for the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.
“I originally started this initiative when I was watching the ESPYs in summer of 2014,” Lammert said. “Stuart (Scott) was talking about how he has used his platform as a SportsCenter anchor to inspire those that are going through different illnesses, whether it be cancer or something else. It really hit home with me. It showed me that I have a platform as well as a student-athlete at Texas Tech. I have one more year with these resources and I felt like it was time for me to get something implemented into our athletic department that can really help out the community.”
Through the creation of the Red Raider Reach program and the bumps and bruises he is sure to acquire throughout the remainder of his senior season, Lammert’s leadership skills shine. He credits much of this to the people at Texas Tech University and his coaches over the past four years.
“The best thing about being a Red Raider is the people,” Lammert said. “It’s the people at the university and specifically in the athletic program. Each coach has challenged me with a different thing that has challenged me to become a better person over the years. I’m very grateful for my time at Texas Tech.”
Although his eligibility will expire at the end of the season, Lammert will be enrolled in graduate school working on his master’s degree in sport management with an ultimate goal of becoming athletic director at Texas Tech.
In the meantime, Lammert is excited about the potential his team has shown this season.
“We have made strides throughout the season,” he said. “We have relied on a lot of youth and younger guys. Some freshmen have had to play big minutes. Leaving this program in the hands of some of these younger guys is good and I look forward to coming back and seeing what they do in the future. The ceiling that this program has is really high with Coach Smith.”