Sherman (Tex.) High
It happens all the time, especially in today's well covered world of high school sports, kids get identified early as talents and then labeled as "busts" if they don't meet unfair expectations that were placed on them as youngsters. In that sense, future Sooner Cameron Clark who is now ranked #30 nationally in the class of 2010 by Scout.com is a bit unique.
Although he was identified early by regional scouts as a potential player, he somehow managed to stay out of the national eye until the last six months or so. I actually got to see Clark for the first time when he was a 6-foot-2 eighth grader and wrote at the time, "You can't help but be impressed by Clark's advanced athleticism and natural perimeter ability. He's long, explodes to the hoop off of dribble drives and in transition and is a very respectable jump shooter. He creates space for his shot at will against his peers and certainly has a bright future should he continue to grow and improve."
While that initial evaluation was written in February of 2006, it could almost serve as a current evaluation for the talented wing scorer. Still an above average athlete with good length, Clark is quite capable and adept at creating driving lanes and attacking the hoop. Actually, his ability to handle as a wing is one of his of his biggest strengths because he's generally able to create space for shots.
Even though his range extends to the three point line, Clark is most impressive as a pull-up jump shooter. He loves to freeze defenders with a hard jab step, head fakes and then pull-up quickly for jumpers between 12 and 18 feet after one or two quick dribbles. So effective is Clark with that pull-up jumper, that there are few others in the class of 2010 who can match his prowess as a mid range scorer.
Not selfish by any means, Clark will share the ball and he's proven to be an effective rebounder when he makes up his mind to crash the glass. In transition, Clark is an exciting finisher capable of climbing the ladder to make big finishes above the rim and over bigger players.
As big a weapon as his pull-up jumper is, Clark goes through stretches where he's entirely too reliant on the shot. More than once during the summer, opposing coaches shouted over and over to their players to watch out for the one dribble pull-up making him somewhat predictable on that end.
Another area for improvement will be learning to score without the ball. What this means is that Clark has to develop his game away from the ball. He needs to improve his movement and become stronger as a catch and shoot guy. As it stands, he almost always puts the ball on the floor prior to making a move because he has to generate a rhythm via the dribble.
Finally, Clark must learn to bring it each and every time he takes the floor. Because scoring comes so easy to him, he often coasts or forgets that there's more to the game than just scoring the ball.
Looking ahead to his days in Norman, Clark projects pretty easily as a swing man who could come in and make an immediate impact for the Sooners. With his 6-foot-6 size, strong mid range game and ability to slash to the bucket in halfcourt or transition, he's the prototypical college three man. The biggest transition for him will be adjusting to not being the first, second and third option of an offense and learning to play without dominating the ball quite as much.
Sooner fans should be plenty excited about Clark. Like just about any entering college player he has some areas of his game that need to be addressed, but for the most part they are aspects of his game that should improve quickly thanks to the coaching he'll get from Jeff Capel and his staff. Finally, it's been impressive to see Clark remain on top of his game and not get chewed up and spit out by a system that often crowns kings and knocks them off their thrones in the span of a few years.