Rotnei Clarke, Jamal Lewis

Rotnei Clarke’s father expects him to play against Gonzaga

Leave a comment

Rotnei Clarke gave college basketball fans a “hold your breath” moment on Saturday when he was taken off the court on a stretcher after he was fouled by Matt Derenbecker on a breakaway lay-up and crashed head-first into the basket support in a 79-73 victory over Dayton.

Turns out that Clarke sustained no spinal damage in the incident, but there is no timetable for his return.

Well, mark down Conley Clarke, Rotnei’s father, as one of those who thinks his sharpshooting son will return sooner rather than later.

The Bulldogs, ranked no. 14, play at home against no. 9 Gonzaga on Saturday.

“If they’re thinking about not letting him play Saturday,” the father said, “they’re going to have to take him to another county.”

David Woods of the Indianapolis Star reported in the story that Clarke was back shooting in the gym on Sunday, so that’s a good sign. Conley added that his son will abide by the doctor’s advice. An MRI revealed a significant neck sprain.

“His spinal cord and cervical discs were viewed normal,” Galloy said. “Right now, he’s sore and stiff, but he’s out of the collar. The next question is when he can resume contact.”

Getting Clarke back would be a huge help offensively against a team like Gonzaga, who are pretty good on the perimeter. They shoot 36.5-percent from three. I’m not sure he could guard Kevin Pangos one-on-one — or if Brad Stevens would even let him — but his deep-threat abilities could force forwards to come out on screens and picks and open up the inside for Andrew Smith and Khyle Marshall.

Clarke is averaging a team-leading 16.2 points per game this season.

As far as what his dad has said, that sounds like a parent saying what parents say. Neck sprains really effect ones ability to play well when rotating in a zone on the perimeter and generally limits court vision — no way to keep your head on a swivel if you can’t move it. I’d expect this week might be the best treatment week ever for Clarke. Neck massages for everyone!

David Harten is the editor and founder of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.