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Jaylen Clark's comeback from a season lost to injury started Sunday when the Timberwolves cleared him for full-contact practice and Las Vegas Summer League play.

It's a long way from a torn Achilles tendon he sustained with UCLA in its regular-season finale against Arizona in March 2023. That didn't keep the Wolves from drafting him 53rd overall in the second round three months later.

Now the 6-5 guard is back, ready to prove his full health and his defense will earn his way onto the team.

"It's a blessing, man," he said after Monday's first summer league practice. "I'm ready to get to Vegas. It feels great to be back out there."

The Pac-12 defensive player of the year his junior season, Clark said he believes he can defend all five positions in summer league play.

"In the season, I really don't know, " he said. "It depends who the other bigs are. I just want to re-establish myself as the best defender in my class. I can guard way bigger than what I am, and I've improved my jump shot a whole bunch. I'm going to try to break the steals record like I did at my college."

Defense is his way into the NBA.

"One thousand percent," Clark said.

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Wolves summer league coach Chris Hines calls Clark an "amazing defender" who benefited from a season in which he watched and worked on that shot.

"He's a smart kid," Hines said. "He gets his hands on a lot of basketballs. What I like about him is he picks up guys early. He's very strong. He stands guys up and utilizes his strength."

Clark watched teammates Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jaden McDaniels and others all last season while he rehabilitated his injury.

"I learned a whole bunch," Clark said. "It's just learning to fit into the system. When I look at us, we don't need no more scoring: Ant, KAT, Naz [Reid], Jaden [McDaniels] when he gets it going. It's just finding a role where you can fit in. If I defend at a high level, rebound and knock down a shot every now and then, I'll be able to get some spot minutes, and spot minutes lead to big roles."

For now, Hines wants Clark to listen and learn.

"He picks up on a lot of stuff really well," Hines said. "For him, it's more toning him down. Listen more, learn more and take in more instead of talking more. Being quiet, I think he's learned a lot from that."