FlashBuck: Clark Kellogg

By Michael Citro on May 24, 2013 at 11:30a

July 2, 1961, was a very eventful day.

Novelist Ernest Hemingway lost his battle with depression and took his own life in Ketchum, Idaho, with a shotgun. The same day, Nikita Khrushchev threatened the British ambassador that “six hydrogen bombs would be quite enough to annihilate the British Isles,” should the U.K. join the United States in a war over Berlin. And the citizens of Mexico elected a new legislature.

Special K takes flight.Clark Kellogg was a baller before people said "baller."

Ohio State fans will mark the date a little differently. It’s the day Clark Clifton Kellogg, Jr. was born.

Kellogg grew up on the east side of Cleveland and attended St. Joseph High School (which became Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in 1990).

An absolute stud player in high school, “Special K” averaged 28 points his final two seasons, including a state record 51 in the Vikings’ loss to Columbus East in the 1979 state championship game. He graduated from St. Joseph in 1979, shortly after that title game loss and a mere 27 years ahead of David Lighty, another Buckeye hoops standout from that high school.

Eldon Miller was happy to land Kellogg in the 1979 recruiting class, and the 6-foot-8 forward soon enrolled at Ohio State, where he would major in marketing.

Freshman Year

Kellogg was the lone youngster, starting with four veteran players. Junior center Herb Williams and senior point guard Kelvin Ransey were the team’s stars. They were joined in the starting lineup by bruising power forward Jim Smith and shooting guard Carter Scott, both juniors.

The 1979-80 squad went 21-8, with a 12-6 record in Big Ten play. Despite a preseason national ranking of No. 4 and talk of a conference championship, the Buckeyes finished a game behind Indiana in league play. Ohio State finished the year as the No. 10 team in the AP Poll, following a 72-68 loss to UCLA in the second round of the NCAA tournament. That Ohio State team rose as high as No. 2 nationally during the season.

As a freshman, Kellogg averaged 11.6 points and eight rebounds per game, finishing third and second on the team in those categories, respectively. He shot 44% from the field and made 80% of his free throws.

He reached as many as 19 points twice—at Iowa on Jan. 10, 1980, in a 77-71 win, and at Purdue on Feb. 28, in a 64-60 victory. He backed up the 19 at Purdue with 18 in a heartbreaking 76-73 loss in Bloomington on March 2. Clark closed the year with 11 points and 11 boards in the NCAA tournament opening win against Arizona State, and 12 points and eight rebounds in the loss to UCLA.

Sophomore Year

Larry Huggins replaced the departing Ransey in the starting lineup for the 1980-81 season. Losing a star point guard had the effect you’d imagine. Despite a preseason No. 9 ranking, the Buckeyes slipped to sixth in the conference, finishing 14-13 overall and 9-9 in league play.

Kellogg led the Buckeyes in scoring (17.3 PPG) and rebounding (12 RPG), despite the presence of Williams in the middle. That’s how good Kellogg was—he outscored and out-rebounded one of the best centers in school history.

Clark topped the 20-point mark for the first time on Nov. 29, 1980, against Cleveland State, dropping 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in an 89-81 win. He snatched 17 rebounds in a win over Colgate, to go with 16 points.

Gettin' that money.Kellogg was picked 8th overall by Indiana in 1982.

But it was apparent what kind of season the Buckeyes would have when South Alabama rolled into Columbus. Using only seven players, the Jaguars won 76-67 at St. John Arena. Kellogg scored 18 points with 19 rebounds, but Williams mustered only 14 points and four boards before fouling out, with five blocks, and six turnovers. Ohio State turned it over 15 times as a team and shot 29.7% from the floor in the second half.

Clark showed his resilience after a brutal 4-point, 4-rebound effort in a loss at Purdue. He was 2/9 from the floor that night before fouling out with 4:15 to play. He was brilliant the next game in an 81-69 win over Northwestern, scoring 42 points on 18/29 shooting, to go with 14 rebounds.

He also dropped 25 on Wisconsin with 14 rebounds in a hard-fought 71-67 win and 25/11 in a loss to Michigan State. He torched Sparty in the rematch at home, scoring 23 and pulling down 14 boards. Kellogg finished the season with an 18-point, 16-rebound effort in a 78-70 win over Iowa.

For his efforts, Kellogg was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 1981.

Junior Year

The Buckeyes hoped to bounce back in Kellogg’s junior year, but they’d have to do it without Williams, who had gone to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers in the first round of the draft. [foreshadowing!] Carter Scott was also gone. Miller named Kellogg a team captain.

Kellogg and Huggins were joined in the starting lineup by forward Tony Campbell and center Granville Waiters. A pair of freshman guards, Ron Stokes and Troy Taylor, rotated in as starters as well. Ohio State did bounce back, finishing 21-10 overall, with a 12-6 conference record. The Buckeyes tied Iowa and Indiana for second in the league, two games behind Big Ten champion Minnesota.

Special K led the Buckeyes in scoring (16.1) and rebounding again (10.5) in 1981-82, his numbers dipping slightly with the emergence of Campbell and a more team-oriented approach. Kellogg reached the 20-point mark eight times his junior year, with 16 double-doubles.

He scored 21 points with 10 rebounds in a 61-58 win over Florida on Dec. 22, and followed with 20/13 in a 63-54 win over Washington State. His 14 points and 14 boards helped the Buckeyes nip league champ Minnesota, 49-47, in early January. Clark scored 24 points to lead Ohio State over Indiana, 68-65, on Feb. 25, and he added 21 points with nine boards late in the year in a 64-63 win over Michigan.

The Buckeyes reached the NCAA tournament and headed to Charlotte on March 11 to square off against James Madison, champions of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference South. The Buckeyes led 29-22 at the half, but the Dukes stifled Ohio State in the second period. Tony Campbell shot just 4/13 and the Buckeyes scored only 19 second-half points, falling 55-48.

Kellogg finished 5/10 shooting with 12 points and 12 boards for another double-double. James Madison center Dan Ruland dominated Waiters in the middle, scoring 18 points on 7/11 shooting and holding the OSU pivot to six points.

The season ended in a most unsatisfying way, but Kellogg did pick up some hardware. He was named to the All-Big Ten first team. He was Ohio State’s MVP and also garnered conference MVP honors from the Chicago Tribune.

However, the rumors were swirling that Clark Kellogg’s Ohio State career was over, and indeed it came to pass.

OSU Legacy

Clark averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game over his entire three-year career, hitting 48.5% from the floor and 77% from the line. He also blocked 60 shots. Sadly, he was never on a championship team at Ohio State. His squads went 56-31 overall, and 33-21 in the Big Ten. He never finished higher than second in the conference, which he did twice, and his Buckeyes were 1-2 in NCAA tournament games.

However, Kellogg did leave quite a mark on the OSU record book. He left Ohio State as the 12th leading scorer in school history, but has since slipped to 29th. He left Columbus as the school’s fourth most prolific rebounder, behind only Jerry Lucas, Herb Williams, and Bill Hoskett. Perry Carter (1988-91) and Terence Dials (2002/04-06) have passed him since. He still holds the fifth best career rebounding average at Ohio State.

He made the All-B1G team twice (first team once) and was Ohio State and conference MVP in 1982.

Kellogg completed his marketing degree at Ohio State in 1996, and in June of 2010, he was appointed to the university's Board of Trustees.

The League

"More than any specific goal, I wanted to be known as one of the better players at Ohio State." - Clark Kellogg

On May 14, 1982, Kellogg held a press conference to announce he would forgo his senior season at Ohio State and declare for the NBA Draft. Following Ransey in 1980 and Williams in 1981, Kellogg made it three years in a row in which Ohio State had a first-round NBA pick.

Dallas, Kansas City and Cleveland reportedly showed early interest, but it was the Indiana Pacers who selected Clark with the eighth overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft.

Kellogg had a very productive, albeit short, career with the Pacers. He averaged 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds in 1982-83, appearing in 81 games. Despite averaging a double-double, Kellogg finished just behind Terry Cummings of the Milwaukee Bucks (23.7/10.6 in 70 games) for NBA Rookie of the Year. He made the All-Rookie team and looked to be one of the league’s next breakout stars.

After two more productive seasons, in which Clark scored 19.1 and 18.6 points per game, his body began to break down. Kellogg was limited to 19 games in 1985-86, and just four the following season. Due to serious knee problems, Special K’s professional career was cut short in 1987 when he was just 26 years old.

After Hoops

Today, Kellogg is known best for being the lead college basketball analyst at CBS. After the NBA, he broke into the broadcasting game working as the TV analyst for Cleveland State games and on radio with the Pacers. His big break in television came in 1990, when he was hired at ESPN. He joined CBS full-time in 1997 and eventually replaced Billy Packer on the eyeball network’s top announcing crew in 1998. He often says some very interesting things.

At that bittersweet 1982 presser, where he announced he was skipping his senior year with the Buckeyes, Kellogg said, “more than any specific goal, I wanted to be known as one of the better players at Ohio State, and I wanted to be referred to as a good-natured player.” More than 30 years later, we still remember him that way.


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JColeman1's picture

I did not know he had a rookie year like that in the league. Quite impressive. Wonder how different the East wouldve been in the late 80s earlier 90s with him, Reggie Miller, Rik Smits and Chuck Person as the core of a Pacer team.

Matta World Peace's picture

Is it a weird camera angle, or is the ball 3 feet above the rim in that pic? Didn't know Clark had those kind of ups...

baddogmaine's picture

I was on a house painting crew with Clark one summer in the 70s in the Cleveland area. He was very tall and very nice. I don't think he was particularly dedicated to house painting, he never did master the fine art of painting a window with a roller.

WC Buckeye's picture

I was lucky enough to watch Clark, Troy Taylor, and Ronnie Stokes (Buckeye standouts on the 1981-82 team) in person at St. John arena, and they had that joint ROCKIN' - you could just tell that they had a good time playing together. So much fun. Still, there was a lot of disappointment in Columbus at the time that the (obviously talented) teams, this one included, that Eldon was able to put together just couldn't seem to break out the way that they should've. Clark is a great Buckeye, and it is always a pleasure to watch/listen to the games he covers on CBS. You never know what might happen.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

RBuck's picture

Kellogg would have a complete beast with a coach like Matta. IMO Eldon Miller was the worst bench coach in tOSU's hoops history.

Long live the southend.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I know some don't care for Clark as a broadcaster. And I get it. He says some off the wall stuff (as Michael mentioned above), and his use of certain terms like a player getting "Dairy Queened" when they foul out, can be kinda annoying. But really, to me that's just Clark being Clark. And I appreciate him. With almost every interview I've heard with him, he is quick to point out his love for OSU and there is no doubt that he is a Buckeye through and through. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him myself, but I know several people who have approached him at OSU games, even OSU women's games, and he was very gracious and accommodating with picture and autograph requests. 
I only wish I could've watched him back when he played. 

TheSweaterVest's picture

This is well done and yet obviously done by someone who never saw him play and didn't interview people who did.
He was Special K and billed as kind of the next Magic. He threw behind the back no-look passes and could rebound better than any other Buckeye in my lifetime. I saw him get rebounds one-handed, like in the photo above, and then throw the outlet pass without ever putting his left hand on the ball.
That high school class of 79 was so incredible, and he was right there, though behind Sampson, and I think he and Ralph were likely the reason we scheduled a home and home in 80 and 81 with UVa.  People here were so excited that he was coming.  The championship high school game against Granville Waiters, who was being recruited hard by ScUM, was on the radio, was much-anticipated, and I still run into people who remember listening to it on the radio like I did.
A highlight in 80 was the one point victory in St. John over Indiana, which was cathartic after the Charles White Rose Bowl loss.  I am 95% sure freshman Clark went to the line with less than 10 seconds and hit the two free throws to go ahead of freshman Isiah and a team a year from winning the tournament.
He got hit in the face in a Big 10 game and lost at least 1 front tooth.  His first couple years in Indy he came back and did Majestic paint ads on TV in Columbus.  Maybe he just hadn't gotten used to the teeth, but I was stunned later when he became such a well-regarded broadcaster because the ads were pretty rough.
Thanks for the flash.

Michael Citro's picture


This is well done and yet obviously done by someone who never saw him play and didn't interview people who did.

Kelvin Ransey's era is the one in which I got hooked on basketball as a sport and I certainly did see Kellogg play over the course of his career, though only on TV. I didn't start attending games in person until Dennis Hopson came along. 

I had forgotten about him getting his chopper knocked out, but now that you mention it, I do recall that.

One of Clark's few flaws was a propensity for turnovers, owing to that flashy passing style to which you refer. And yes, his rebounding ability was uncanny, which is why I point out how he had better numbers than Herb Williams, widely regarded as one of the best to ever play at Ohio State. If you're out-rebounding Herb Williams, you're doin' some work.

Kellogg was my favorite player for a time. I would pretend to be him in the driveway. I was short, so I couldn't relate to Herb, and there I found something mystical about Ransey that somehow forbade me from emulating him. We used to clobber guys and call our own foul by saying "Jim Smith!" Carter Scott was a good player but never really left an impression on me.

Eldon's squads could play with anyone, but would often drop games inexplicably and had trouble taking care of even mediocre teams on the road. It wasn't a talent issue. It's one of the reasons I was happy to see Gary Williams come along. I think if Williams had that 79-80 team he could have gotten pretty deep into the NCAA tournament.


TheSweaterVest's picture

I loved watching Carter Scott. Jim Smith was exactly as you described.  I thought that 79-80 team did get pretty far in the tournament; highest seed in their region to get to the regionals, losing only to the runner-up for the whole tournament. 
They lost eight games all year- besides 80 tourney runner up UCLA in the tourney, they lost to 79 champ MSU, 80 champ Louisville, and 81 champ IU on the road in overtime, barely missing out on a share of the conference title- and yet somehow they were a 4 seed and got sent out to AZ to play 2 Pac-10 teams.
Maybe Williams could have beaten IU, or at least Wiscy, but I think Eldon got a pretty tough road in the tourney.  Kellogg fouling out didn't help, neither did the 35-10 FT disadvantage.

Michael Citro's picture

Yeah, the tourney draw was horrible. I just think that Eldon never quite got the results his talent warranted. That was a potential Final Four team, or so it seemed to me at the time. Maybe they lacked a real glue guy, I don't know.

Floyd Stahl's picture

That 1981 loss at Indiana on the final day of the regular season that cost them the Big Ten title still makes me cringe.

I saw Clark play live a number of times and feel that he is one of the best to ever don the Scarlet and Gray.

Indy_Buck87's picture

I met Clarke last Saturday night before game 6 of the Pacers Knicks game.  I received an e-mail inviting me to the game from the director national Alumni relations.  Later I learned that Clarke helped put together the event.  We had a private reception area in the arena and was allowed to enter 2 hours before tip off to hang out, eat dinner and mingle with other Alums.  Clarke stopped by and sat at the table with my wife and I chatted with him for nearly 30 minutes.  I have to say he is all class.  Very humble and just a great guy.  We talked about his charity efforts , his basketball career, his son at OU, and of coarse buckeye basketball.  I asked him if he thought Craft would get drafted by an NBA team. He said that good guard play is very important and that someone would take a flyer out on him.  I tried to convince him that Oden would be a perfect fit with the Pacers (coming off the bench to spell Hilbert until he gets back 100% not being forced to play to much right away, etc).  I also talked about this awesome buckeye website called 11 warriors. He had not heard of it but was  going to check it out,  so how cool was it to have an article about him on here at same time.  Keep up the great work and Go Bucks!!!

I know of only two things that are infinite, space and human stupidity.....and I'm not sure about space". Albert Einstein.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Clark played his college ball a little before my time.  I wish I could have seen him play.  He always seemed like a true Buckeye and I do like hearing him call games even though he does say some funny things at times.  ha ha.
Overall, it looks like he was one great player.  Great article Michael.  Thanks for writing this artile so those that didn't get a chance to see Clark play would know him a little better.