The Wollongong Hawks have done it again – swooping on a top-flight American guard who seemed well beyond their reach.
Following their recent success with former imports Ty McKee, Gary Ervin and Adris Deleon, the Hawks have signed former US schoolboy and college star Rotnei Clarke for the 2013-14 NBL season.
Clarke spent three years with the University of Arkansas – the same college attended by 2011 NBL MVP Ervin – before transferring to Butler University for his senior year.
Standing 180cm, he led the Atlantic 10 conference in three-pointers per game (3.5) and free throw accuracy (89.6 per cent) in 2012-13, while his 16.7 scoring average ranked fourth.
The Hawks initially contacted Clarke several weeks ago and weren’t surprised to discover he was out of their price range and intended playing in Europe.
But Clarke had a change of heart.
Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod and assistants Matt Flinn and Eric Cooks couldn’t believe their luck when Clarke’s agent called last month to say he was still available and keen to play in Australia.
A deal was soon worked out and the 24-year-old is due to arrive in Wollongong later this month.
He can swing between the shooting guard and point guard positions and boasts rangeless three-point shooting.
His performances for Butler earned him a place on the All-Conference team.
Clarke worked out with the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards but wasn’t taken in the NBA draft.
‘‘I do believe I have the confidence and the ability to play in [the NBA],’’ he recently said. ‘‘I’m not going to say I’m going to be a starter, but I do believe I have the ability to do things that a lot of people think I can’t.’’
Clarke poured in 3758 points during a storied high school career – the most in Oklahoma high school history.
Playing for Arkansas in a 2009 college game, he made 13 three-pointers and finished with 51 points – both still stand as records for the South Eastern Conference.