Big East Media Day with Karron Clarke

WeAreDePaul.com's Dan Stack sat down with DePaul junior wing Karron Clarke at Big East Media Day in New York City recently to give us this story. Clarke looks back on last season and talks about the strides the team has made into this season. Karron is often overlooked by opponents which can be a deadly mistake…

When the Big East Conference unveiled its 2006-07 preseason men's basketball All- Conference team it included two DePaul Blue Demons (Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler). DePaul was only one of two teams to get two players on the list (the other being Georgetown with Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green). DePaul and head coach Jerry Wainwright will no doubt look upon those players for production, but a key contributor that will hiding in the wings will be 6-6 junior wing Karron Clarke.

Clarke is a jack of all trades, in that he does a little bit of everything well. Clarke is a player who can flourish in his second year at DePaul after transferring in from Miami. Teams will be keyed on Mejia and Chandler so much, that Clarke will be sometimes forgotten. And teams will pay for that. Clarke is coming off a fine season in which he averaged 10 ppg and 5.2 rpg. Combine Clarke with another hidden gem in super sixth man Draelon Burns and teams that oppose DePaul will have serious match-up problems if they key on Mejia and Chandler exclusively.

Clarke is an extremely gifted athlete. He is confident in his game and knows his role quite well. "Pretty much the same role as last year, but a little more experienced this year," Clarke explained. "Pretty much just (an) all-around (game). Rebounding, defending, scoring." Clarke also went on to say that he's improved his ball handling and that he's really confident with the ball and people could be surprised this year.

Clarke is a classic gym rat who is constantly working hard to improve his game. "I feel very confident because I put a lot of work in. (I'm) Just in the gym (a lot). After practice for an hour. Before practice, coming in early." It's those attributes that has led Wainwright to name Clarke one of his team captains.

Wainwright likes to consider Clarke a converted power forward that has transformed into one of his better perimeter players. Clarke has used the summer to work on his strenghs as well as to continue to get better from long distance. "I'm mixing it up more this year. I'm going to the basket as well as shooting the three," Clarke discussed.

The transition of transferring to DePaul from Miami hit some rough spots last year for Clarke. He was playing under his third head coach in three years, and so much was new to Clarke and to DePaul in general under Wainwright's first season. But Clarke is comfortable now and the team is following suit. "We're more together this year. We're more focused this year. Everybody looks like they are on the same page."

"(Last year with the) new system and everything we really didn't know what to expect. This year we know everything. We have high expectations," Clarke added.

Clarke is a player that will not rest on his laurels. He's constantly working and trying to improve on his game and winning is a high priority for him. Clarke knows it won't be easy with another tough slate ahead of them." Coach Wainwright believes in playing the best schedule in the country. So we have a tough schedule. I like it. In order to get better you have to play better teams," Clarke expressed.

All season long people will point to the accolades of Mejia and Chandler, and even Clarke knows that. "To me, the player that has stood out is Wilson Chandler. And of course Sammy Mejia (is) back and better than ever," Clarke replied when asked who has stood out in practice.

Perhaps Clarke is fine with that. If you ignore him, you may pay the price and pay dearly. I'm not trying to draw any comparisons, but last year LSU had a great inside-out duo of Glen Davis and Darrel Mitchell that teams always took note of, but it was Tyrus Thomas who teams forgot about, and Thomas made them pay as he was mostly responsible for LSU advancing to the Final 4.

DePaul has a lot of work for that sort of fate, but Clarke is and will always be ready for teams to forget about him.

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