Sept. 20, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. -- Cameron Clark has yet to play a basketball game at Oklahoma, but that hasn't stopped the 6-6, 190-pound wing from already becoming a household name among staunch OU hoops fans. Clark is the Sooners' most highly touted recruit in their 2010 class of nine newcomers.
From Sherman, Texas, Clark was regarded by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com as one of the nation's top 40 high school seniors last year. Rivals listed him as the country's fifth-best small forward, while ESPN and Scout pegged him sixth-best. After talking to Clark, though, it's clear that the main number in which he's interested is wins -- as in the amount of victories he'll help his team rack up in his first year of college.
Blessed with a basketball build and tremendous athletic ability -- OU head coach Jeff Capel says he should be as athletic as any Big 12 wing player -- Clark flourished all four years at Sherman High School. The two-time first-team all-state performer can do a little bit of everything, as evidenced by his senior year averages of 23.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals.
Clark took a few moments from his busy class and workout schedule last week to answer questions about the recruiting process, his adaptation to college, his relationship with Coach Capel, what he brings to OU and what he likes about his teammates. A Q&A follows below and a separate three-minute video interview is available in the player above.
Q: How has the transition from high school to college gone for you so far, both in the classroom and in terms of basketball?
A: "I think it's going pretty well. Just trying to stay focused in the classroom and on the court, and just trying to get better each day. As far as the basketball, it's a lot tougher than in high school. Here, everybody's good and is competing for a spot. And the conditioning is tough."
Q: Do you like being away from home and on your own?
A: "Yeah, it's cool I guess. It's not really difficult because I'm just two hours away from home. It's not too bad. It's kind of like when I played in AAU tournaments (in high school). You go on trips and you don't get to see your mom and dad. It's basically the same type of thing."
Q: Talk about the recruiting process. Did you enjoy all the attention you received from different schools?
A: "Yeah, it was cool, but coming from a smaller community like Sherman, I'm not really used to that attention. I liked it."
Q: Did it ever get to be too bothersome?
A: "No, not really. Whenever I felt like it was too much I just asked my mom and dad to deal with it."
Q: What was it about OU that made you want to become a Sooner?
A: "The coaching staff and the way the players were working hard (when I came on my visit). I felt like the coaching staff could make me better both on the court and off it. The academic facilities are really nice and helpful."
Q: Fellow freshman T.J. Taylor committed to OU pretty early, and you've been good friends with him for quite a while. How much did that friendship play a role in you deciding on OU?
A: "I'd say he played a big role. We've been playing together since sixth grade. I'm just glad we're both here at the same time."
Q: How would you describe your relationship with Coach Capel? What are some of the things you admire about him?
A: "I would say we have more like a friendship, because he's so cool off the court. On the court, we're just trying to get it in; it's all business. He pushes me pretty good. I think it's a good relationship. He's straightforward. He tells you what you need to do or if you're doing something wrong, and that's what I like. I don't like when people try to sugarcoat stuff. I want them to tell me what I need to do so I can get it done."
Q: In terms of your basketball ability, what do you think are your best traits?
A: "I would probably say whatever's needed at the time. I just see myself as a basketball player. I can score when I need to, defend, rebound. I just enjoy the game in general. Making a shot, then coming down and getting a steal on defense -- that's what I live for."
Q: What aspects of your game have you been focusing on improving lately?
A: "Ball handling and defense. I played defense in high school, but it wasn't like it needs to be here where everybody is good. If you're trying to play, you've got to play defense. That's the main thing."
Q: What are your goals for your freshman year?
A: "I haven't really made any goals other than to go hard and try my best every time I step on the court. I think I can help this team in a lot of ways."
Q: You put a lot of points on the board in high school. What's your favorite way to score?
A: "I don't really have one. Well, mainly, shooting 3's and dunking on people."
Q: Coach Capel has said that he thinks you'll immediately be one of the best athletes in the Big 12. In what ways do you like to use your athletic ability to your advantage?
A: "I try to use it mainly on defense. I can guard multiple positions with my length. With shorter guards, I can just back off of them and put my hands up. On bigger players, I'm probably faster than them so I just try to use my speed."
Q: How would you describe yourself as a person?
A: "A real cool dude who's funny at times and just laidback. But not laidback on the court."
Q: What do you like to do when you're not studying or playing ball?
A: "Just try to get some sleep; that's the main thing. I need my rest. But you know, just chill with friends. Calvin (Newell) and Abdul (Ahmed) are the main people I'll be chilling with. They're funny. We just walk around campus, try to see what's poppin' and stuff like that."
Q. What are some of the things you like about this team?
A: "Everybody on the team is focused. There are no individuals on the team and everyone's pushing each other. I think every time we step on the court for team or individual workouts, everybody's getting better."