Thanks in large part to his ability to fill it up from deep, Rotnei Clarke has emerged as one of the more watched players of the spring. Phog.net caught up with him at the Kingwood Classic in Houston and spent some time with him as he went over the recruitment process, his game and when he’d make a decision.
“I think it’s been fun for me and I’m really enjoying the recruiting process,” said Clarke of the explosion in his recruiting. “I know it’s going to get a little crazy over the summer, after playing tournaments and stuff. I may just have to go out and make my decision pretty quick.”
Clarke is just joking when he says that he may be looking to take himself off the available list anytime soon, he’s just talking about how he could slow things down a little. But, the fact is, he’s a confident kid who likes the pressure of playing in front of college coaches.
“That’s why we play the game and that’s the fun thing about this game of basketball,” said Clarke. “Going out there and seeing all of those coaches and playing against the best players in the country, it’s a lot of fun.”
Highly regarded because of the deep range and accuracy on his jumper, Clarke understands why he’s been labeled a “shooter”. He also understands that it’s a pretty good label to have, but he wants to be sure coaches know he can do more than just line up and fire away from 20 feet and beyond.
“Maybe as a freshman I was just a shooter, but I’ve developed my game a lot,” Clarke told Phog.Net. “I’ve worked on getting to the hole, a floater and I’ve got the mid-range game now. I don’t think it’s fair to label me just a shooter, but that’s what I can do well.”
He’s been compared to players like Gerry Mcnamara, Jeff Boschee, Teddy Dupay and even Mark Price, but the question is: which comparison does he like best?
“Coach Wojick at Tulsa told me he sees me as a Steve Nash type because I can pass and see the floor pretty well,” said Clarke of his favorite comparison. “I kind of like shooting floaters like him too. Any comparison is fine but that one is an honor.”
Often times, kids will insist that they are either a point or shooting guard and ask to be recruited that way. Not Clarke, he doesn’t care either way and it’s not something coaches have even bothered to bring up with him.
“It doesn’t matter to me, I’ll play either one and I’m comfortable at either spot,” said Clarke of how he’d be best utilized in college. “Coaches just want me to come play. I haven’t had one coach tell me he’d use me as either a shooting or point guard.”
Naturally, the question that those who follow recruiting would like answered is when will he narrow things down, and who does he like the most.
“I’m starting to try and do that, but I haven’t started yet,” said Clarke. “Right now for sure, well everybody is going to be on the list. OU (Oklahoma) is hitting me hard right now, Arizona State, Marquette, Tulsa there’s a lot of teams that have been hitting me hard.”
When asked about the involvement of the University of Kansas, Clarke confirmed that Bill Self has indicated he’d like him to play in Lawrence. He also says there’s a scholarship on the table for him if he wants it.
“Yes they did (offer), they’d definitely be up there too,” said Clarke of the Jayhawks. “He (Self) just said that he wants me to play for him and he’s offering me a scholarship right now.”
As for his thoughts on Kansas, Clarke likes what he sees.
“It’s obviously a great school with a tradition,” said Clarke. “That’s every kid’s dream school right there, and they hope they get to play for the Jayhawks.”
According to Clarke, he’s not likely to make a decision until the end of the summer, at the earliest. He’s just looking forward to playing more ball and is looking for the same things that most other kids are.
“Coaching style, the character of the teammates I’m going to be playing with,” finished Clarke. “Location’s not a factor for me and I’ll go wherever as long as I get a chance to play.”