Arkansas Lands Clarke

Lawson State (AL) Community College power forward Coty Clarke (6-7, 225) talks about his decision to commit to Arkansas while on his official visit and become one of eight new faces on next season's Razorback roster.

It didn't take Lawson (AL) Community College power forward Coty Clarke long to decide that he wanted to be a Razorback.

Clarke (6-7, 225), who just began his visit late Tuesday, committed to Arkansas Wednesday morning and will sign in the next couple of days once he returns home to Birmingham

"I committed to Arkansas because it just felt like such a family atmosphere and I feel like the system just fits my game the best," Clarke said. "I feel like I can come in and help get the Razorback program back to where it was one of the more successful in the country and everybody was wanting to come here."

He gives Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and assistant T.J. Cleveland - both Birmingham natives - a lot of credit for making Fayetteville the place he wants to play his next two years of college basketball.

"Coach Anderson and Coach Cleveland are not only great coaches, but they are great people as well," Clarke said. "They are the kind of guys I want helping me guide both my game and my life. I'm honored and blessed that I am going to get to play for them."

Clarke, chose Arkansas over offers from Georgia, Auburn, Memphis, Detroit, Southern Miss and Bradley among others.

He averaged 16.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks last season for Lawson State for head coach Phil Shumpert.

He was the nation's second-leading rebounder, an area that the Razorbacks floundered in last season.

"I just believe that every rebound is mine and that I am going to go get it and no one is going to take it away from me," Clarke said. "It really goes back to when I was little and my momma said "if those other boys won't pass the ball to you and shoot all the time, you just go get the rebound and you'll be the one scoring.' She knew what she was talking about and that has always been a great part of my game.

"Coach Phil always said rebounding is a lost art, but I am trying to bring it back," Clarke said. "Every board is mine."

Clarke, who starred at Birmigham's Pinson Valley High School, had 28 double-doubles in his career at Lawson State.

He had 23 of those this past season and also had four triple-doubles, shot over 50 percent from the field, over 40 percent from the 3-point line and over 70 percent from the free throw line.

"I think my versatility is something that I have just worked so hard on over the years," Clarke said. "I was the point guard in the sixth grade so that is where my handle comes from and then I got into high school and I was the biggest guy so I worked on my post moves. I couldn't shoot that good at all when I got to high school, but it was a part of my game I just put in so much time to get better at and now it is a strength."

Clarke gives Lawson State head coach Phillip Shumpert for allowing him to develop his total game.

"Coach Phil, I can't thank him enough," Clarke said. "He allowed me to use my versatility and let me continue to develop. We were able to just really use what I can do both inside and outside to take advantage of match-ups and that helped our team in being so successful."

He got a chance to meet and play some pick-up games with current Razorbacks Hunter Mickelson, B.J. Young, Rickey Scott and Rashad Madden.

"Those guys are great and I know they have the same mindset and hunger that I do," Clarke said. "We are not going to be satisfied with being just a good team. We want to be great and we are going to work to make sure that happens. Between those guys and the other recruits we have coming, we are going to get that done."

Clarke becomes the fifth signee in Arkansas' 2012 class, the second this spring and the eighth new addition to the Razorback roster since January as head coach Mike Anderson remakes his team.

He joins 6-8 Birmingham Central Park Christian small forward Jacorey Williams, 6-5 Shreveport (LA) Huntington swingman Michael Qualls, 6-4 Memphis Bartlett shooting guard Anthlon Bell and 5-10 Alexandria (LA) Peabody point guard Dee Wagner as signees.

Arkansas also added Oklahoma State guard and former Fayetteville star Fred Gulley (6-3) in January and he will be eligible next December.

The Razorbacks also picked up Houston transfer Alandise Harris (6-6, 230), the former Little Rock Central star and someone who was a starter for two years for the Cougars.

Arkansas will also benefit from having 6-6 guard MeKale McKay, a football signee who has been told he can play basketball after the gridiron season is over.

"We are going to be so good," Clarke said. "I know I am making a great decision and this program is headed back to the top. I am honored that I am going to be a part of that."


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