Hoops: Bennetts add stellar D with JC signee

On his visit to WSU, coach Dick Bennett sealed the deal for Ivory Clark but chalk up one very big assist under Tony Bennett's name. The younger Bennett was the one who first introduced the power forward to Cougar basketball -- and the more Clark talked with the associate head coach of the Cougs, the more he knew he wanted to play for him and Washington State.

If the son follows in his father's footsteps as head coach at Washington State, his ability to recruit will be among the many reasons why.

Case in point -- the recruitment of Midland College power forward Ivory Clark.

"Coach Tony Bennett did an outstanding job recruiting him," said Midland coach Grant McCasland. "He felt really comfortable with him. That was going to be the biggest factor with Ivory -- who he felt most comfortable with. Tony just did an amazing job and coach (Dick) Bennett obviously did a really good job on his visit of sealing it."

Clark agreed, saying one thing that really stood out to him was that Tony Bennett wasn't only interested in what he'd bring to Friel Court for 40 minutes a night.

"Coach Tony really recruited me on a personal level," said Clark.

Clark chose Washington State over offers from New Mexico, South Florida and Wichita State. Other schools, including one from the Pac-10, made eleventh hour late charges for the 6-6, 215-pound power forward, said McCasland.

"Oregon was trying to get in late, so were lot of other schools, but he had cut it off by that point," said Midland's head man.

The chance to compete in the Pac-10 and the unique charms which Pullman has to offer were key in Clark's decision to don the crimson and gray.

"Its really just beautiful scenery out there," said Clark. "Its a nice college town, its what I wanted."


Look for accomplished defender Ivory Clark to clean the offensive glass at Washington State

THE NEW ORLEANS NATIVE will finish up his junior college classes at Midland later this summer. He'll head to Pullman shortly thereafter, possibly as early as July.

Clark led the Chaparrals in scoring (13.2 ppg) this past season but his defense and rebounding (7.1) are what sets him apart. McCasland said the Cougar Nation can look forward to a player who has the ability to guard a number of positions and well understands how to employ his 7-foot-3 wingspan.

"He's really long and he's really athletic," said McCasland. Offensively, he's going to be good in their system and he'll do a good job setting screens, playing from 15 feet in and he's of course adequate as far as scoring on the block."

"But the two things I think he does really well are that he guards well, at multiple positions, and he does a good job on the offensive glass....Those are two things that I think people can look forward to. He's talented, he's real versatile."

AS WITH ANY player moving on to the next level, McCasland said Clark will need to continue to improve in order to consistently compete night in and night out in the Pac-10. But there's no questioning his ability or his upside.

"I think he's definitely going to have a bright future," said McCasland. "And I know that coach Bennett and Tony are some of the best coaches in America. With their leadership and his continued growth, there's no stopping him as far as what level he can play at."

"The thing that excited me most about him in recruiting him here to Midland is that he's just a great teammate and a great person. He takes his academics seriously, he's just the consummate student athlete. He comes from a great family, and is just a great fit for Washington State."

Notes:
  • At Edna Clark High, Clark averaged 18 points, 12 boards and 6 assists his senior year. Among his honors and accolades, he was named The Times Picayune 2003 Metro Male Athlete of The Year, a member of the Orleans Parish All-Star team, Orleans All-Metro team, All West Bank team and All District performer. Clark and Rodney Edgerson join fall signees Caleb Forrest and Antonio Chavers as members of the Cougars' 2005-06 recruiting class.


  • Clark paced Midland to a 26-10 mark on the 2004-05 season under McCasland, who just completed his first year as head coach at a program he helped build. McCasland previously served as the Director of Basketball Operations at Texas Tech and was a four year letterman during his playing days at Baylor.



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