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September 8, 2006After an outstanding summer of AAU ball, 6-foot and 180-pound combo guard Rotnei Clarke of Verdigris High School in Claremore, Oklahoma, has seen his recruitment intensify, according to his high school coach and uncle, Kelley Clarke. One of those schools heavily recruiting Clarke is just 20 minutes away -- the University of Tulsa -- which is one of Clarke's current favorites.
"There are a lot of schools after Rotnei," stated Coach Clarke. "Arizona State, Washington State, Arkansas, Missouri State and Tulsa have all offered. Others such as Marquette, Oklahoma, Florida State (offer), Florida, Kentucky, UConn and Michigan State are all interested."
"We've just got to see to what level some of these schools are interested. Nebraska, Clemson and Auburn are others that have become interested lately. Arizona State is recruiting Rotnei the hardest, but Tulsa and Missouri State are as well. Those two have told Rotnei that they're going to let him relax a little bit, but both of them would like to get a verbal commitment from him."
Tulsa is one program that has been recruiting him steadily throughout, and Clark has become very familiar with the Golden Hurricane.
"A while back, I asked Rotnei to give me a list of his top schools, and Tulsa was on that list. He went over there this summer and played with the Tulsa players, and he made an unofficial visit there last week to watch the football game (against Stephen F. Austin)."
"I know he likes Doug (Wojcik) and (assistant coach) Dave (Wojcik) and the whole Tulsa situation. The Tulsa coaches like Rotnei as a point guard because of the way he passes and comes off screens. His passing is one of the things they think he does well, in addition to shooting."
Clarke had a great summer playing with the Team Texas AAU squad, although he backed off on the number of games he played.
"His dad (Conley) and I talked to Rotnei about not playing so many games this past summer, and I think it helped him," Coach Clarke explained. "Team Texas competed really well this past summer, but didn't have as many wins as they expected. Willie Warren was injured, and that hurt, but it allowed Rotnei to get the ball in his hands more."
"He really attacked the basket and took on more of a leadership role. He hasn't done a 180-degree from last year, but he has clearly improved. He has greater range on his shot and is a lot stronger. He's really added muscle too, because he's been hitting the weights. He's going to be a great player. When you have some of the top talent in the country face-guarding you, that tells you something."
Coach Clarke explained in an earlier interview that there was a good chance that his nephew would continue to grow, since others in his family had done so at about the same age. A recent visit to the doctor confirmed his earlier statements.
"Rotnei recently saw his doctor and was told that his growth plates were still open," added Coach Clarke. "Rotnei takes after his mother's side of the family, and his cousins hit a growth spurt after their junior years in high school and are about 6-foot-6 now. I don't think he'll get that tall, but I bet he'll be over 6-foot-1 by the end of the season."
Official practice starts on October 1, but Clarke is already working hard to continue his improvement.
"We can work with the kids an hour a day, three days a week now," continued Coach Clarke. "The other two days they just scrimmage. We're also lifting four days a week now and will drop back to three, once practice begins."
"We're looking forward to the season and have a couple of big tournaments in December. We play in the Tournament of Champions in Tulsa and also play in the Oklahoma Baptist University Tournament the first week of December. We will match up with Blake Griffin and his team in that tourney."
Coach Clarke concluded by discussing what Rotnei will be looking for when choosing a school and a coaching staff.
"He's enjoying the recruiting courtship now and doesn't want to rush things. He wants to make sure he explores all options. In a couple of months, he should know if some of the schools that have contacted him are serious or not."
"He wants to be truthful with the coaches and wants them to be truthful with him. I know he will go to a school where he feels comfortable with the coaching staff. Concerning Doug (Wojcik) and the Tulsa coaches, I know he feels comfortable with them."
"We should know more in a few months, but who knows, he could make a commitment anytime. I'm just trying to help him out, but it's going to be Rotnei's decision."
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