The Legend Of Rotnei Clarke

Pure-shooting Verdigris (Okla.) High junior guard Rotnei Clarke (6-0, 170) is a 2008 prospect Arkansas would love to sign and one that is playing to packed houses every night out.

The Legend of Rotnei Clarke continues to grow each and every game.

Clarke, a 6-0, 170-pound pure-shooting junior guard from Verdigris (Okla.) High, is already over 2,000 career points and on pace to break the state's career scoring mark of 3,619 by Ty Harman back in 1989.

He has gone over 50 points several times, 40 many more and is averaging 34.7 per game this season while shooting nearly 50 percent from 3-point range and 85.4 percent from the free throw line.

Tonight, weather permitting, University of Arkansas head coach Stan Heath will be on hand to watch Clarke – one of the Razorbacks top 2008 prospects along with his Team Texas AAU teammate Willie Warren – no doubt light it up again.

"He is flat out, without a doubt, the best shooter in the 2008 class," national basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep said after watching him this summer.

"I'm not sure whether it is really a point guard, but he is certainly someone you have to find a way to get out on the court," Telep added. "His forte is shooting and he has proven he can get his shot off against anyone while playing a high level of competition during the summer.

It is a skill Clarke has honed by going through a routine of making 500 shots a day.

Not taking, but making 500 shots a day.

"If you want something bad enough, you will work as hard as you can to get there," said Clarke, who also sports a 4.0 grade point average.

"I think God gave me a talent and for that, I give him all the glory," Clarke continued. "I also try to be a role model for the younger kids out there on the court in the way I handle myself. I know every game we go to someone is looking to see how I am going to handle some situation and I don't want to disappoint anyone."

Arkansas is just one of many schools recruiting Clarke. Others in the mix right now are Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Marquette and Arizona State.

The Razorbacks do have an ace recruiter already in Fayetteville resident Sandra Kuntzweiler, who is Clarke's grandma and trying to land both her grandson and Warren – a 6-4, 190-pound guard from Fort Worth Crowley - for the Razorbacks.

"My grandma is really working on me to come over there and getting him, too," Clarke said. "She's doing a good job. He says she's the coolest grandma around and she would take care of us if we go to Arkansas."

Warren and Clarke, who is planning to be at Arkansas' game with Auburn, would love to have the opportunity to play together in college.

"We're really good friends and mesh really well on the basketball court," Clarke said. "I certainly could see it happening if that's what we both end up deciding is the best path for us to take."

Clarke certainly is familiar with the Arkansas program.

"I love it over there and I have been over there several times (for games)," Clarke said. "I am real impressed with the program and its future. I really like Coach Heath, Coach (Orande) Taliaferro, Coach (Darren) Sorenson and Coach (Dan) Hipsher.

I used to come over there when I was younger to see my grandma and I would go down and shoot in their arena and get to know the coaches," added. "I also used to go to their camps."

Once again this season, Clarke has played before packed house after packed house whether it is being played in Verdigris' 2,500-seat arena or on the road.

"It's kind of fun having all the fans packed in for our game every night," Clarke said. "Whether they are rooting for us or against us, it makes it exciting every time out."

He's also seen just about every defense imaginable.

"I can't think of anything I haven't seen," Clarke said. "There was a game not to long ago where two guys stayed with me from the tip. They went with me everywhere I went and just left one of our other guys wide open. So I just got him the ball and he got easy baskets."

Clarke still managed to get 31 points of his own that game despite being hounded by his two new friends.

"I just keep working and working and working and sooner or later, I am going to get open and be able to get off my shot," Clarke said.

While being a deadly spot shooter is a good thing in and of itself, Clarke has made sure that is not the only component of his game.

"I have worked very hard on being able to get my shot off the dribble, hard on driving the basket and on all facet of my game," Clarke said. "I was determined not to be known as just a spot up shooter."

While Clarke played shooting guard as a sophomore at Verdigris, he has been running the point during the summer for Team Texas and also has spent most of his time there this season.

"This year I have been playing mostly the point and know that is what I will be doing in college," Clarke said. "That's why I am working hard to be the best all-around guard I can be."

Rotnei Clarke

Rotnei Clarke

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