Terps Target Clarke Shines in Tip-Off Classic

SUFFOLK, Va. -- The marquis game at the XTreme Sports Tip-Off Classic in Suffolk Jan. 4 featured top-rated Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.) against another strong St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) squad. It afforded us an opportunity to see recent Terps visitor Chris Clarke (CHC) against Dwayne Morgan and talented sophomore guards Khalil Richards and Daquan Bracey.

SUFFOLK, Va. -- The marquis game at the XTreme Sports Tip-Off Classic in Suffolk Jan. 4 featured top-rated Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.) against another strong St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) squad. It afforded us an opportunity to see recent Terps visitor Chris Clarke (CHC) against Dwayne Morgan and talented sophomore guards Khalil Richards and Daquan Bracey. CHC controlled the game for the most part, and withstood a late Panther run to eke out a 66-61 victory.

Here are some brief observations after viewing a very spirited contest:

First, Cape Henry Collegiate is a very talented squad, ably coached by Mark Hall, who has two sons (one football, one basketball) currently attending Virginia. His team is not exceptionally big, but they have shooters, scorers and athletes. Clearly, our attention was focused mainly on 6-5 junior Chris Clarke. We've seen Clarke before, but not recently, and he's taken his game to another level. He's a "point forward" in my eyes, as he handles the ball a lot, and facilitates CHC's offense very effectively.

The question remains: Can he shoot the ball? Since he took NO perimeter jumpers, it's hard for me to say, and yet he can get to the rim at will. We're talking about a tremendous breakdown player, who handles and slashes with precision. So, while I cannot say for sure if he's much of a shooter, he's definitely a scorer. Add in defense, rebounding and great court vision, and, yes, there's a place for Chris Clarke at the high-major level.

Maryland, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Creighton, Nebraska and others are in the mix, and trust me, after a spring season on the Nike circuit, there will be plenty more schools taking a long, hard look at this explosive wing.

Junior point guard Marcus Evans is another solid D-1 look for Coach Hall, who can penetrate and elevate, finishing this hard-fought contest with an emphatic dunk to conclude the five-point victory.

For the Panthers, we like sophomore guards Bracey and Richards. Bracey, who looks 5-10, is a tough penetrator and defender who can shoot. He's got a solid mid-major future in front of him, as does Richards (6-0), who is geared to score. In fact, depending on their development, both could get some high-major nibbles as time goes on. Coach Nick Myles has two outstanding guards to build on in the next three years on Chase Street.

Morgan, who has signed with UNLV after getting strong interest from Georgetown, was held to eight points and five rebounds. The athletic Morgan was hampered by foul trouble, and some strong CHC defense, particularly when guarded by Clarke, who gave up 3-pointer but forced him into shooting contested jump shots. Morgan shot 4-of-10 from the floor (0-of-2 from beyond the arc).

Dan Painter's Scouting Report

Player: Christopher Clarke
Height: 6-5+
Weight: 190 pounds
Class: 2015
Position: Forward/Guard
School: Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Venue: Nansemond River HS (Suffolk, Va.) versus Saint Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) for the XTreme Sports Tip-Off Classic

Athleticism: Clarke possesses excellent speed, is very quick, is an explosive leaper and plays much stronger than he looks. I don't use the term "elite" often, but this wiry wing man definitely fits the description in terms of sheer athleticism.

Shooting: We took the long ride to Suffolk to possibly answer the question regarding Clarke's shooting. The question remains unanswered, however, as Clarke took no jumpers in the game against Saint Frances. He does have pretty nice form from the free throw line (8-of-12). We'll have to monitor this aspect of his game a bit longer though to get a definitive answer as to his perimeter shooting. As for now, the term "slasher" definitely applies.

Ball-handling: Coach Mark Hall uses Clarke almost as a "point forward," and much of the offense flows through him. The junior handles the ball exquisitely with both hands, and finishes at the rim with authority.

Passing: Absolutely love Clarke's ability to find people on the break and in half court sets. He has excellent court vision.

Defense: Another impressive facet of Clarke's game. His length, anticipation, and DESIRE enables him to guard any number of positions effectively. While guarding Saint Frances' Dwayne Morgan (6-8), the UNLV signee scored exactly one basket off him.

Rebounding: Clarke had 11 for the game. As mentioned, he's a quick leaper and attacks the glass with passion.

Intangibles: At times, Clarke showed outward signs of enthusiasm with some strong finishes, but he seems to lead more by example. Make no mistake, Clarke is a tough hombre, a competitor, and does all the little things you love to see on the court.

Summary: I hadn't seen Clarke for awhile, and I wanted to scout him against a Saint Frances team that provided a strong test for him and his No. 1 rated CHC (in the Tidewater area) squad. He's one of those players who can hurt you in many ways. The explosion, the defensive tenacity, the vision and the poise all are quite impressive. At some point we'll need to see more of a perimeter game, but this guy is the proverbial stat-stuffer -- someone who can help you win without scoring a bunch of points.

His line for the SFA game was 20 points (6-of-9 field goals), 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block, and three turnovers. The Terps will be losing wings Nick Faust, Dez Wells, and possibly Jake Layman after next year. Chris Clarke, in my opinion, is more than capable of helping to fill in for those departures.


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