2005 Focus: Denis Clemente

Denis Clemente is looking to follow in the footsteps of another Puerto Rican basketball star: Guillermo Diaz. As Diaz did more than a year ago, Clemente is hoping to burst on the scene in a hurry.

Who led the Sunshine State in scoring this season? It wasn't Darius Washington or Jason Rich. It was Calusa Prep's Denis Clemente at 34.2 points per game.

The 6-1, 170-pound junior guard is a blur who gets to the basket in a hurry, but not too many people know much about him – a la Guillermo Diaz more than a year ago before he made his mark at the Slam Dunk to the Beach.

Clemente, 17, came to Miami from Puerto Rico last summer and has had little trouble adjusting to the pace of basketball in the United States.

``The hardest part is that in Puerto Rico, people don't play defense like they do here," Clemente said. "I've become a much better player since I came here."

``He has blazing speed and can go from end line to end line in 3.2 seconds," Miami Tropics coach Art Alvarez said. "He shoots from the outside, he can penetrate and can also finish. He's just a kid that no one really knows about yet."

Well, not exactly no one.

Arkansas offered him a scholarship on the spot and the Miami coaching staff likes him. The other schools in the Sunshine State know all about him as well.

However, he'll get a chance to showcase his skills this summer with Alvarez' Tropics group.

``I feel that I can take anyone off the dribble," Clemente added. "I think I am quick enough and I can use my floater to score over big guys. I still know that I need to get stronger. "

In addition to his scoring output, Clemente also managed to average 11.7 assists per contest for the small classification school.

``I feel that he'll end up doing the same thing that Guillermo did when he blew up," Alvarez said. "They are different types of players, but I think when people get a chance to see Denis, they're really going to love him."


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