Dan Clark will be ready to help Great Britain plot a path through EuroBasket’s group of death when the tournament tips off on Wednesday. But he could, instead, have stood in their way.

The tale which the 22-year-old recounts sounds like something out of an old espionage movie, cloaks and daggers in numerous supply. When he opted, in his teens, to leave home and pursue his basketballing future at Estudiantes, there was a visit one day from the agents of the Spanish Federation.

“There was an approach,” he reveals. “I think it was during my second year there. They asked if I would naturalise (as Spanish). I was one of the few foreign players, who were big, and playing in the junior system out there at that point. They started asking about it.”

It could have advanced his chances of promotion through the ranks, the opportunity to pledge his future to an international super power. The deliberations were short. “I wasn’t interested,” he confirms. “We left it there.”

If the story says something about the corrupted system that allows even those countries with an embarrassment of riches to pass around passports as if they were parcels at a birthday party, it also illustrates Clark’s sense of identity.

He can barely remember when he first picked up a ball, growing up as a mascot and then ball boy at the London Leopards where his Dad, Mark, was then the assistant coach.

Basketball was always a family affair. Mark, later to become the Great Britain women’s coach, played for England. So too his Mum Claire. Dan was the first genetic product. His kid sister Ella is following suit, having played for Great Britain in this summer’s European Under 20 Championships in Serbia.

Mark Clark has spawned two GB stars (Dan Wooller)

Having parents steeped in the game was a plus, Dan affirms. “But Ella and I work very hard. And I know Mum and Dad worked very hard to get where they did. Knowing people who have been there before and done it before does help. We’ve both been guided in the right direction.

“It’s like having a veteran on our team. They’ve known what to do at certain points when maybe I’ve felt a bit lost. I also try not to ask them too often. You want to be independent. Since I was about 17, I’ve tried to take everything in my stride. But I know they’re there.”

Ella, on scholarship at Long Beach State University, is a typical younger sibling, he says. Show what you can do – and I’ll see if I can do better.

“There’s always a little bit of competition,” he laughs. “That’s just the way we are in our house. We’ve always tried to get one up on the other. That helps us.”

The 6’11” centre has been unafraid to pursue his own path. Eschewing the mantra that insists that British talent must head west to make their fortune, he assessed his options at the age of 14 and headed south to Madrid. Estudiantes promised him all the coaching he could wish for and all the practice time he needed.

It was a brave decision. There was homesickness to contend with. “At the beginning when I went out, I was quite young and I was having to get used to the language and everything. It was quite hard. Especially when I was being loaned out to other clubs to give me minutes, I wasn’t sure if things were going to work out.”

It turned out for the best, he underlines. “There were certain points when I was wondering if it would be better to go to the States. But every option has its positives and negatives. At the end of the day, I think I made the right decision.”

When he does return back to Greenwich, to catch up with family and catch the occasional Chelsea game, he gets a view of the giant fairground being finished down the river. The Olympic Park has grown every time he has been in town, the cranes now giving way to landscape gardeners and the cleaning squad.

Clark: given all-clear after hand injury (Map Photos)

12 months out from London 2012, there have been plenty of promises made, not just of a sporting masterpiece but of what it might leave behind.

“I hope it will leave something,” Clark argues.

“If we do well at the Olympics as a team, and we get support from the country and they see what basketball is about, we might get a legacy. At the moment, I don’t see where the legacy’s coming from because no-one’s putting money into the domestic league.

“British Basketball has done a good job of putting teams together and I’m sure the T-16 programme will help that. But the biggest thing that needs to be improved is the BBL.”

If so, the Dan Clarks of the future might not need to head to Spain for self-betterment. And his loyalty would be repaid handsomely in kind.

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