U of L emerging as a favorite for 6-8 Earl Clark

Louisville coach Rick Pitino recently visited Rahway, New Jersey standout Earl Clark, and apparently the Cardinals have emerged as a major player in the 6-foot-8 standouts recruitment. While two other Big East programs also sit near the top of Clark's list of favorites, the versatile wing prospect has a visit to Louisville lined up for the very near future.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino apparently made quite an impression with Earl Clark last week in Rahway, New Jersey.

Clark, one of the top high school prospects in the country, has really blossemed on the court since arriving at Rahway High School three years ago as a skinny 6-foot-3 freshman.

"He's exploded in the last year and a half," said Rahway coach Bernie Buniak, who is helping Clark with the recruiting process. "He's a work-aholic in the gym. He's so instinctive, and has great floor vision. His skills are tremendous, and he's so quick. He can shoot it, and make others around him better."

Now 6-foot-8, Clark is drawing all kinds of interest from college coaches who'd love to have him join their programs. Besides Pitino, UConn's Jim Calhoun, Seton Hall's Louis Orr, Rutgers' Gary Waters, Miami's Frank Haith, and Villanova's Jay Wright have all paid visits to Clark this spring.

And while Rutgers virtually had no chance to get involved with Clark prior to Waters' hiring of former Villanova assistant Fred Hill, the Scarlet Knight now are at least part of the mix.

"Coach Hill at Rutgers gives them a shot," Buniak said. "They're right in the mix now. It was a long shot before he went to Rutgers, though."

Still, according to Buniak, the race for Clark's services appears a tussle between three of the Big East's top programs, and Louisville figures to be a major player in the 6-foot-8 forward's recruitment.

Louisville, UConn, and Villanova
are in good shape with 6-8 Earl

"I'd say Earl's top 3 right now are Louisville, Connecticut, and Villanova in no particular order," said Buniak.

Buniak gave Pitino glowing reviews following his visit with Clark last week.

"It went very well," Buniak said. "Coach Pitino's presence created a major stir here at Rahway. He laid it on the line to Earl what Louisville has to offer, and talked about the campus modifications like the new arena and practice facility."

"Earl was excited," Buniak continued. "Just two weeks prior, Coach Pitino had his team in the Final Four, and the fact that he came up to see Earl instead of sending one of his assistants was an amazing experience for him."

What stands out about the Cardinals?

"Just the fact that it's Louisville says it all," Buniak said. "Louisville has such great tradition going back to Denny Crum, and they've always had a connection to New Jersey with guys like Milt Wagner and Billy Thompson."

Buniak said UConn, Seton Hall, and Rutgers have extended scholarship offers. Did Pitino?

"Pitino basically offered him a scholarship," Buniak said. "He told Earl that they'd love to have him."

And that apparently was enough to entice Clark to make a visit to Louisville in the very near future.

"Coach Pitino also told him about their basketball camp this summer, and Earl's definitely going to Louisville's camp."

Buniak said that Clark has no other campus visits scheduled at this point.

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