As the men’s and women’s basketball teams approach the midpoint of their seasons, the spotlight falls on athletes senior Donovan Souter (#2) and junior Trystan Clark (#13) for their shooting and defensive prowess and team leadership on and off the court.
Both athlete’s coaches have described the pair as a force that propels their teams toward success and mentors to the rest of their teammates. Souter, a top scorer on the men’s team, showed stellar performances, boasting season-highs of 31 points and 11 rebounds. In a standout game against Southwestern on Nov. 25, Souter scored 29 points, making seven three-pointers. Clark, a standout captain for the women’s team, reached a season-best of 19 points and eight rebounds. In a game against Sul Ross State on Dec. 2, Clark recorded double-digit points for the sixth consecutive game. Beyond their on-court achievements, coaches said both players bring passion and determination, elevating team morale and cohesion.
“[Donovan’s] gone through some adversity here at UTD,” men’s coach Jared Fleming said. “He wasn’t a freshman; he doesn’t live on campus, he had to work to find a way to integrate himself into our team — that shows with him on the floor. He plays hard, no matter what the score is. That’s been a big deal for our team — having our leader fight through the adversity and do the things we need him to do.”
Souter’s basketball journey includes two years of experience at Richland College before joining UTD in 2021, now a fifth-year senior. Hailing from Frisco, Texas, Souter plays a crucial role as a guard on the men’s basketball team. He balances this commitment with his studies in business administration.
“He’s really, input himself into the culture and the fabric of our team,” Fleming said. “But he’s an even better person, he’s a fun guy, a jokester, a big character and that’s a big piece of who we are.”
As the sole senior on the men’s basketball team, Souter has embraced the role of mentor and leader, especially in the absence of veteran help. Recognizing the team’s imperative for defensive improvement, Fleming emphasizes the significance of each player’s contribution. In line, Souter settled into a pivotal role as the leading scorer and having his best defensive year with a 10-rebound game at St. Thomas in Houston. Souter said he aims to give his teammates energy and assurance that he always has their backs even if they have a rough game.
“I think I evolved most as a leader … I’ve had to show the way for the younger players that are now coming into college … take more of a role of being the main guy on the court,” Souter said.
With a career-high of 41 field goals, Souter’s leadership extends beyond the game, inspired by his mother’s resilience and his uncle’s help critiquing his workouts. Looking ahead, Souter remains focused on finishing the season on a high note.
“I’m going to finish my season as best as I can,” Souter said. “Have a great year at UTD… my dream is to play professional basketball.”
Trystan Clark, from Burleson, Texas, is carving a path in business administration while making an impact on the women’s team; recognized with the 2023 ASC All-Tournament Team award, Clark not only leads in points and free throws but also stands at the top in steals and rebounds.
“She still has untapped potential that I think that she’s fighting towards every day,” women’s coach Joe Shotland said. “… There’s still meat on the bone … [she] has the mindset that she wants to improve … that’s huge for us.”
Beyond statistics, Shotland said Clark embodies the essence of a team player, constantly putting her body on the line and getting involved in games. Shotland said Clark is an example of somebody who plays through pain and sets the tone for the team.
“Team to me is family. That’s why I came to UTD,” Clark said. “… I want to be the first one to stand up, give ’em a high five, tell ’em they did good … I just try to really support my teammates and be a leader through actions more than words.”
Clark said she finds solace in the outdoors and enjoys music, with aspirations to explore dance. Shotland recognizes Clark’s drive for continuous improvement.
“My goal [is] to reach my full potential … I’m never really satisfied with my performance as a player,” Clark said. “It’s hard for me to celebrate wins, but I’m always looking for the next thing … to make me a better player.”
Despite the recent setback at Mary Hardin-Baylor on Jan. 6, the women’s basketball team rebounded with a victory on Jan. 11 against East Texas Baptist with a score of 62-55. Clark remains a pivotal force and she has aided the team in winning 10 games.
“The biggest challenge would be ourselves, just getting mentally tougher, getting ready to, prepare ourselves for this next round of conferences that’s coming up,” Clark said. “I feel like once we get ourselves together, there’s no team that we can’t compete with.”