Clarke's Getting Close

UA signee Rotnei Clarke (6-1, 180) is just 139 points away from becoming the all-time career leading scorer in Oklahoma, but it's a state title that is foremost on his mind.

University of Arkansas signee Rotnei Clarke went to a basketball game the other night and a football one broke out.

Or at least that's what it seemed like for Verdigris (Okla.) High star Clarke (6-1, 180), who got jacked up while going for the basket and suffered a gash around his eye.

"It was cheap shot on a lay-up where a guy just came straight at me with both elbows and didn't even try for the ball," Clarke said. "They wanted to put some stitches in there, but this lady just glued it up and I got back at it."

Clarke, averaging 40 points per game, was in the process of scoring 47 in his team's 90-49 win over Sperry and raising his career total 3,501.

He now stands just 139 points away from becoming the Sooner State's all-time leading career scorer.

His quest, which began as a ninth grader, got a boost recently when he poured in a career-high 65 points in a game where he had 43 by halftime while knocking down 9-of-10 3-pointers before intermission.

""Going into my freshman year I had no clue I would ever have a chance for this record," Clarke told the Tulsa World. "Now that I do, to think about it, it is surreal. It is a weird feeling, but at the same time, kind of cool."

Needless to say Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey loves watching the young man play while also thinking of him in a Razorback uniform next season.

"You get excited with the way he shoots the basketball," Pelphrey said. "It certainly would be a tremendous honor if he could become the leading scorer in the state of Oklahoma. It's just hard to believe you would have a chance to say that about someone you are going to get to coach. We are very proud of him.

"You can't help but look ahead to what might happen with him here, what could potentially take place, how we are going to coach him and how we can plug him into the things we do here," Pelphrey added.

"He's probably not going to average 40 in college, but we know that when he gets open that ball is going to in a high rate of times," Pelphrey continued. "I know he is going to be a big-time teammate and a young man who will come here and work hard to be the best he can be. Those are the kind of guys that really put character into your program."

Clarke and his fellow Cardinals will be back in action Thursday against Pawhuska in the regional tournament.

He could claim the number two career scoring spot – currently held by former Kentucky and current NBA player Kelanna Azibuke – with 30 points in that game.

Clarke and the Cardinals have a Class 3A state title on their minds.

He believes that is a real possibility since his teammates - especially 6-8 center Adam Hollon - have improved so much in the last two months.

"A lot of our guys are being much more aggressive, especially our big guy who is hard to stop right now," Clarke said. "There is really no one in 3A right now that can handle him because he is so strong. We might see a team with two seven-footers (Heritage Hall) down the line, but I feel great about how he and the other guys are playing. It is taking a lot of the attention of me."

If he hits his average in the next couple of games, Clarke would be primed to break the record in a area final game a week from Friday.

"It's hard to get the record out of my mind completely because that would be a great accomplishment, going down in history," Clarke told the Tulsa World. "But it's a team goal and I know if I get it, my teammates would go crazy for me. It would be the whole team's record, and Kelly's record and the school's record. But there will be a void if we don't win the championship. Anything less than the gold ball (for the state title) is unacceptable."


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