NORTH LITTLE ROCK - The University of Arkansas basketball program suffered a crushing loss on Saturday, but could be gaining one of its signees - who was on hand Saturday at Alltel Arena - much earlier than expected.
Former North Little Rock star Andre Clark (6-10, 205) has plans to enroll at Arkansas for the second semester, pay his own way since the Razorbacks have no current scholarships available and redshirt while getting to practice with the team.
Clark, who averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds per game this past summer for the Arkansas Hawks AAU squad and has been at Genesis One Prep, will do so if a recent ACT he took comes back one point higher than his previous one.
"If I get what I need I will definitely start school at Arkansas in January," Clark said. "I just needed to increase the number on my English part of the test and I feel good about that. I will pay for it on my own and just get started."
While he would not be playing any games for Arkansas this current season, Clark thinks that going up against the Razorbacks' senior frontcourt players will have him better ready to contribute in 2008-2009.
He has the blessing of the UA staff to do so.
"I think it will help me tremendously just to be able to practice with some of the seniors and get a little experience up under me," Clark said. "Conditioning wise, I will be getting my knee strong again and it will help me just getting use to school."
Clark averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds for North Little High his senior season, but really didn't come into his own until the summer AAU circuit.
He exploded on the scene and had offers from Kentucky, Indiana and Oklahoma – where he signed – before matriculating to Genesis One to get his academics in order.
New Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey offered Clark this fall, he de-committed from Oklahoma and became one of the Razorbacks' six signees during the November early signing period.
"I feel very blessed that it has all worked out this way for me," Clark said. "I am really excited about being a Razorback and the sooner the better."
Even if he does not get the needed point, Clark said he will not head back to Genesis One next semester.
If I don't get the score I need, I will just keep taking it, but I have no plans to go back to Genesis One," Clark said.
Clark's knee injury kept him from playing in all but one tournament.
"I did really well in that tournament, especially since it was my first time getting back out on the court since AAU," Clarke said. "My knee is getting better and I will be ready to practice as soon as I get up there."
Clark sit behind the Arkansas bench on Saturday and was very noticeable to fans - as most 6-foot-10 young men would be.
He was philosophical about Appalachian State's 74-67 upset of Arkansas (9-3).
"That was a tough loss, but anybody who knows anything about basketball knows things like that just happen sometimes," Clark said. "They are a good team and will bounce back."
Clark's Early Arrival
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