When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.
Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.
The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.
Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.
“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”
Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.
VIDEO: UIC’s Gabe Snider hits seated half-court shot
The 6-foot-8 Jesperson is from Merrill, Wisconsin and averaged 11.1 minutes per game as a sophomore. Putting up 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, Jesperson shot 52 percent from the field last season, but wasn’t regularly productive in his minutes.
By playing closer to home in the Horizon League, Jesperson gets to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules and he’ll have two more years of eligibility after that. The younger brother of Northern Iowa forward Paul Jesperson, David can stretch the floor a little bit at his size and could be a useful role player in that capacity for Green Bay.
Horizon League passes cost-of-admission measure for men’s basketball
The measure comes in men’s basketball and “for at least an equal number of female student-athletes in a League-sponsored sport or sports.”
Federally created guidelines estimate that must stipends added in the cost-of-attendance initiative are between $2,000 to $4,000 for each athlete annually.
“On behalf of the Horizon League Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce passage of this recommendation from the Executive Council,” University of Detroit Mercy President Dr. Antoine Garibaldi, Ph.D. said. “This resolution aligns with our strategic plan and guides the current and future direction of the Horizon League.”
It’s nice that men’s basketball athletes — and their female counterparts in other sports, as part of Title IX — will get that extra stipend to not have to worry about covering the cost of other things while under basketball scholarship. It serves as a nice recruiting tool for the Horizon League’s coaches. Many other mid-major men’s basketball leagues could be forced to follow suit in the near future to match what the Horizon League has done because they have a clear advantage here. They can offer real dollars to student-athletes that similar counterparts are not offering.
While cost-of-attendance measures were passed with the “power five” conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC) in January, this is a strong step for a mid-major league like the Horizon League to take.
Full cost of attendance was initially passed by NCAA legislators in 2011 but was later voted down by the full membership.
Green Bay has its new head coach, according to multiple reports on Friday afternoon.
Linc Darner, the head coach of Division II Florida Southern, will replace Brian Wardle as head coach of the Horizon League program. Wardle left for to fill the same position at Bradley on March 27. In five seasons, Wardle was 95-64 (54–20) with two NIT appearances with Green Bay.
Darner, who played for Gene Keady at Purdue, led Florida Southern to the Division II national championship two weeks ago, completing a 34-1 seasons. Daniel Turner, a senior forward for the Mocs, had transferred from Green Bay.
Last season, Kim Anderson led Central Missouri to the D2 title before being hired by Missouri, his alma mater. He has 12 years of head coaching experience all at the Division II level at both Florida Southern and St. Joseph’s College (Indiana).
Darner will be taking over a Horizon League program that loses top scorers Keifer Sykes and Greg Mays, but does retain Jordan Fouse.
The Horizon League race was an entertaining one, as it wasn’t decided until the final week of the season with Valparaiso winning the crown. The Crusaders won’t have to leave home as a result, but they won’t lack for challengers in the race for the automatic bid. Green Bay is looking to erase bad memories of a loss in last year’s tournament, and both Oakland and Cleveland State are formidable as well. Of the four other teams in the tournament (Milwaukee’s ineligible for APR reasons), Detroit may be best equipped to go on a run thanks to the presence of Juwan Howard Jr.
Thanks to their regular season title the Crusaders are the top seed, meaning that they host the second round and semifinals and also receive a bye into the semis. While home court certainly helps (they’re 8-0 in league home games this season), Valparaiso’s defense is another reason why they should be seen as the favorites. Opponents are averaging just 59.9 points per game and shooting 38.2% from the field, with both numbers being tops in the Horizon League. Alec Peters, one of the best forwards at the mid-major level, can score both inside and out for a team that led the Horizon in offensive rebounding percentage (36.6%) in league games.
And if they lose?: Green Bay
Like Valparaiso, Brian Wardle’s team gets a bye to the semifinals. Seniors Keifer Sykes and Greg Mays lead the way for the Phoenix, who lead the Horizon in field goal percentage (46.6%) and also have the league’s lowest turnover rate. Green Bay has also been solid defensively, but if there’s a concern it’s what could happen if an opponent forces them to resort to three-point shots (they’re shooting a league-worst 30.2% from three). Green Bay also received some good fortune in the seeding, as a Cleveland State team that swept the season series between the two is on the other side of the bracket.
Cleveland State: Gary Waters’ Vikings lost two games to Valparaiso by a combined five points, and they have the tools needed to win three straight games in this tournament. And in guards Trey Lewis and Charlie Lee and forward Anton Grady, Cleveland State has three players capable of leading them on a run.
Oakland: The Golden Grizzlies are just 16-15 overall, but they won 11 of their 16 Horizon League games. In guard Kahlil Felder, head coach Greg Kampe has one of the league’s best and forward Corey Petros is no slouch either.
Player of the Year: G Keifer Sykes, Green Bay
Sykes is averaging a league-best 18.5 points per game, shooting 46 percent from the field while also accounting for 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. The senior point guard is ranked in the top five in the Horizon League in points, assists (4th) and steals (3rd).
Coach of the Year: Bryce Drew, Valparaiso
Picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, Drew’s Crusaders managed to win the Horizon League regular season title outright. Valparaiso’s defense has been stellar, and with three players averaging double figures led by sophomore forward Alec Peters the Crusaders have options offensively as well.
All-Horizon League Team:
G Kahlil Felder, Oakland: In addition to ranking third in the Horizon in scoring (17.4 ppg), Felder leads the nation in assists per game (7.7).
G Trey Lewis, Cleveland State: Averaging 16.9 points per game, Lewis is also shooting 43.1% from beyond the arc for the Vikings.
F Corey Petros, Oakland: Petros is averaging 14.5 points per game, and he also led the Horizon in both rebounding (8.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (60.1%).
F Alec Peters, Valparaiso: Peters is ranked in the top ten in the Horizon in scoring (fifth), rebounding (sixth), field goal percentage (sixth), three-point percentage (second) and free throw percentage (fifth).
CBT PREDICTION: Valparaiso beats Green Bay in the title game.