2004-12-03 / Sports

Clark Leaps To Big Time At Iowa State

By Elio Velez

In his freshman season at Iowa State, Rhashon Clark has already tasted the thrills of playing in the Big 12, one of the most prestigious conferences in the nation. Before future matchups against powers such as Texas and Kansas in January, Clark has already received his first accolades from playing with the Cyclones.

On November 23, Clark was thrusted into the starting lineup that night in a game against Drake University. He replaced starting guard Will Stinson, who was serving a one game suspension. It was an early opportunity for him to shine and Clark did not hesitate. He displayed the athleticism that made him one of the top recruits at Iowa State. Shooting 5 for 6 and ending up with 14 points, Clark drove to the basket and used his outside shooting touch to fend off the Drake defenders in an easy 73-46 victory for Iowa State.

Head coach Wayne Morgan, a former New York resident, has been impressed with the skills displayed by the former Beach Channel High School star.

“As the year goes on, those two freshmen (along with Tasheed Carr) will get better and help us,” Cyclone coach Wayne Morgan told Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register.

“Rahshon is a great athlete,” Morgan said. “He maintained his composure, he handled layups, he made shots.”

Before landing at Iowa State, Clark had to detour his high school career to Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton, Maine. The star forward in 2003 helped the Dolphins win the PSAL Queens championship and scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds a game. At 6 foot 5, he could post up in the paint against the bigger guys or shoot the 15-20 foot jumper.

Though great on the court, his academic record wasn’t outstanding. Clark had thought long and hard about his grades during his final season at Beach Channel. Dolphins’ assistant coach Mo Johnson, one of Clark’s closest friends and advisors, spoke with Clark about transferring at that time.

“He is a quiet and reserved kid” Johnson says. “He never asked for assistance with his grades before.”

The decision to transfer to Bridgton was largely based on improving his grades so he could receive a college scholarship.

“My purpose was to do better academically,” says the 20 year old Clark. “I wasn’t used to the atmosphere and it took me 2-3 weeks to adjust.”

The atmosphere at Bridgton is a one year preparation school which looks like a brochure photo for Notre Dame or Syracuse. With study halls, athletic facilities and dorm rooms, Bridgton prepared Clark for the rigors that college would entail.

“I spoke to my family and Mo a lot and I finished with a 2.9 GPA. On the team, I thought it would be hard adjusting but the veterans and coaches helped me,” said Clark. Bridgton finished 27-7 overall and Clark averaged 18 ppg and 11.2 rebounds. At the end of the school year, Clark received a huge blow when his father suddenly died.

“It was a traumatic time when his father has passed away suddenly to a heart attack,” Johnson said. “The school year was almost over but he fought through it. He had to learn to grow up.”

The commitment to attend Iowa State was actually made by Clark before he started at Bridgton in 2003. Head coach Wayne Morgan was one reason why Clark chose the Big 12 school.

“Coach Morgan is a nice man. He’s a good coach and the program is good for me,” Clark says of the second year head coach.

“I’m starting to get better. I’ll play the three (small forward) this year,” Rhashon said after spending his high school career playing power forward or center. His role will be to slash to the basket and shoot the outside jumper, which Clark says has improved the last two years.

Clark is all business on the court. His determination and focus may lead Iowa State, which also features star guard Curtis Stinson, back to the NCAA Tournament. “I don’t pressure myself. I get out on the court, I try to do my job and win,” said Clark. “I hope everybody is doing well in the Rockaways and to watch me on TV.”

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