Harris: Clarke's Transfer May Be Most Disappointing Ever for Razorback Basketball

by Jim Harris  on Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2011 3:04 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

We should have known all wouldn't ever be rosy with Rotnei Clarke's career at Arkansas when, after the kid pledged to be a Razorback in the fall of 2007, his dad quit his job at Oral Roberts University and moved the family to Northwest Arkansas. In an era in which we see Little League parents following their progeny all the way into the NBA, this spelled trouble. We can only imagine what the former coaching staff dealt with, having Conley Clarke up the road calling the shots for his kid. What happened to turning your son or daughter over to the college coaches and teachers and letting things be?

So, we had Clarke reportedly asking out of the program last year, only to have Clarke make a late spring statement that all was well and he would stick it out with John Pelphrey. Then the Tulsa World reported, with quotes from Clarke's uncle in Oklahoma, that the player was looking to transfer again as the Pelphrey era wound down. From the quotes attributed to the uncle, the problems seemed to stem from Pelphrey's system. UA athletic director Jeff Long asked Clarke to wait until a new coach was hired and spend some time around him before making a final decision, which came more than a week ago.

Clarke, or his daddy or uncle or somebody decided to take the supposedly denied transfer request to the national media to force Arkansas' hand. So, we read, "Poor Rotnei is being denied his transfer, while two other guys were granted theirs ..." and so forth.

Even the Mitch Mustain debacle and transfer from Houston Nutt's program wasn't handled this poorly by the parties (player and families?) involved.

Now, we wonder about all those whispers that Rotnei was being ignored by certain other Hogs the past three years, that those players were in it for themselves and not passing the ball to poor ol' wide-open Rotnei. When the Clarkes needed them, they used the local media and clued-in superfans who would spread the whispers. When it was time to bolt, notice that they ignored the local media and went national.

A real classy departing, and one that's disappointing in that new coach Mike Anderson didn't deserve to be toyed with by the Clarkes in his efforts to restore Arkansas' basketball program to the level it enjoyed more than a decade ago.

It's disappointing because the stated reason for leaving is so illogical: Clarke says he doesn't fit Anderson's system. Who has been advising the kid? After seeing how bombers such as Scotty Thurman, Al Dillard and Pat Bradley (especially Bradley, whose records Clarke was closing in on) flourished in the Nolan Richardson open-court, fast, defensive pressure attack that Anderson learned and employs, how could Clarke not have seen better numbers ahead in his last collegiate season? Clarke doesn't have to be Alvin Robertson or Darrell Walker on defense to make a difference in Anderson's system. He's a 40-percent-plus shooter from beyond the 3-point arc.

When such a ludicrous reason for leaving is given, it's because somebody doesn't want to tell us the truth.

It's like somebody transported us back to 1990: it's as if somebody who should be smarter than this but has Rotnei Clarke's ear believes Anderson's "system" is code for unorganized offense and helter-skelter defense. Better to be coming off the bench for an "organized" coach such as Gonzaga's Mark Few.

As they say on Twitter: SMH.

The last Arkansas basketball transfer to leave us shaking our heads was the sudden departure of Californian Chris Jefferies, who left after one season under Richardson to return home and play for Jerry Tarkanian at Fresno State. Supposedly, Jefferies had some sudden family responsibilities back home that helped lure him back, but we always wondered what a team with both Joe Johnson and Jefferies could have managed with Brandon Dean in 2000, the year everything jelled for Arkansas in the final month and the Hogs won the SEC Tournament.

Another disappointing transfer, just a season earlier, involved another would-be star and his Little League dad (see the growing pattern here?), Glendon Alexander from Dallas. Again, said player wasn't getting the ball enough in a demanding system that begged for team play.



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