Major Upside

In his weekly column, Dudley E, Dawson writes about Andre Clark (6-9, 205) making a name for himself in April for the Arkansas Hawks and now having the Razorbacks and other majors interested. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website. Click on a banner for details.




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DUNCANVILLE, Tx. - In less than one month, North Little Rock's Andre Clark has gone from being described as a basketball project to one now being labeled as a prospect with supreme upside.

Clark, a 6-9, 205-pound senior forward playing this spring and summer for the Arkansas Hawks and who is headed to prep school , showed once again this past weekend at the Next Level Ballers event in Texas while he has become one of the hottest previously unknown 2008 gems on the AAU circuit.

"It's been pretty amazing," Clark said. "First no one knows my name and now I am getting calls from the coaches at Arkansas, Arizona, UConn, Tennessee and Georgia just to name a few. This has kind of been my coming out party this month.

Arkansas Hawks head coach Bill Ingram knew as much before the Real Deal on the Hill was played in Fayetteville on April 6-8 – the first of three events along with the Pittsburgh Jam Fest and Next Level Ballers that have sparked interest in Clark.

"You guys and the coaches are going to be saying where in the world did this guy come from?" Ingram said. "He is a guy that hardly no one knows about, but everybody will by the end of the summer."

Indeed, coaches at this weekend's event held at Duncanville High School and 30-plus other gym were rifling through their books looking for his name after he put on a great display of athleticism, shooting ability and aggression – something he wasn't necessarily doing at the first of the month.

Clark, a lefthander who averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks per game last season, not only rammed home rebound dunks, blocked shots and outraced his foes downcourt, but he also showed off a shooting touch that included 3-point range.

"Although I need to rebound the ball better, I feel good about how my game is coming along and I think part of it is playing against this great competition," Clark said. "I think God is looking down on me and blessing me right now."

Although there are certainly some coaches who would like to have Clark right now, he is determined to take the prep school route to continue his emerging development.

"I am definitely going to go to prep school," Clark said. "I didn't think I got the offers for me to go ahead and decide. I didn't really get looked at until the Real Deal on the Hill. I think it is just going to be a better deal for me all around to get better and come out next year instead of this one."

"I didn't get any D-1 offers and just got a handful of junior colleges wanting me," Clark said. "Hopefully this last year of summer ball and going to prep school is going to be the deal for me and I will continue to get the attention of the coaches."

Arkansas is certainly paying plenty of attention and has an edge in that new Razorback head coach John Pelphrey actually was recruiting Clark at South Alabama.

"He said he was continue to recruit me (at Arkansas)," Clark said. "I think he has got what it takes to get them to the next level and I would love to go play for him at Arkansas. I was interested in playing for him last year, but it was so early I didn't want to make any decisions."

Clark, who will play in the Arkansas High School All-Star game at Bud Walton Arena on June 21, appears headed to Genesis One Christian School, the same prep school that has current Razorback Michael Washington among its alumni.

"I think I am about 80 percent sure, but I am still talking to a few other ones," Clark said. "The coaches told me that it (prep school) would really be a good option and I talk to my parents and family and made sure they would be comfortable with me doing it. I just believe that God is going to let it help me."

Ingram gave Genesis One high marks.

"He talked to me about some of the players who have went through there," Clark said. "Michael Washington went to Genesis One also. He got me in contact with them and my mom talked to them first.

"She didn't know what prep school was, but he talked to her and explained the process and what it could do for a player and how much it can help you get to college and be better on the court and in the classroom once you get there. We feel pretty good about it."

Clark has shown great mobility for a player his size.

"I feel like I have a slight edge over most big players because I am left-handed and it throws them off," Clark said."I am pretty quick to the basket and I try to beat them up and down the court."

He knows he needs to get stronger, but that will come according to Ingram.

"If he puts the weight on and keeps working hard, he's just going to be a monster," Ingram said. "People will look back and say I knew him when."

O o o

Tidbits:

…Pelphrey and his staff have gone back in and offered several players that the previous staff had offered. Those include Arkansas forward Michael Sanchez, Oklahoma guard Rotnei Clarke, Texas guard Willie Warren and Washington forward Clarence Trent.

All expressed continued interest in Arkansas this past weekend with Sanchez still considering being a 2007 prospect while the others are 2008 guys.

…The staff, which attended two tournaments this past weekend, also has extended an offer to Fayetteville sophomore guard Fred Gulley and is reportedly in the process of doing the same for Little Rock Hall sophomore guard A.J. Walton.



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