The Norman Transcript


March 1, 2014

Longer road but worth it for Clark, Neal



However, neither experienced instant impact careers.

There’s no doubt Clark has been one of the best players in the Big 12 this season. He enters today’s game averaging 15.3 points a game, which is 11th best in the conference.

Yet it took Clark four years to become that kind of player.

“I did four years here and I feel like I got better each and every year,” Clark said.

Neal can say the same. He hasn’t started a game since his freshman season. One of the reasons is he and Clark play the same position — the power forward spot designed to draw bigger defenders away from the paint.

However, Neal was a career 36.9-percent shooter in his first three seasons. He’s shooting 45.7 percent this season, including 42.4 percent from 3-point range. The only Sooner shooting better beyond the arc is Clark (46.8 percent). It’s the gradual ascension most college careers take.

“It’s been good to experience that and an honor to be here,” Neal said.

Both were a part of teams that went 14-18 their freshman year in 2011-12 and ended with the firing of Capel. They suffered the 15-16 campaign in Kruger’s initial season as sophomores.

They experienced the joy of OU returning to the NCAA tournament last season. This year, they’ve helped OU get back in the Top 25 for the first time since 2009 and a serious factor in the Big 12 race and a team to contend with in March.

Seniors get to go through those kinds of experiences. Every player that signs a letter of intent would love to come in and dominate from the opening game of their freshman year. The truth is: successful programs have a lot more career paths like Clark and Neal than freshman superstars who are in and out of college in less than a year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • 498415327SB20543_Sky_Shock How Paris got her groove back

    TULSA — It looked like it came easily to Courtney Paris. The minute she stepped foot on the campus at the University of Oklahoma in 2005, it seemed she was already an All-American and destroying the competition in the Big 12 and across the ...

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sooners will have to do the right thing eventually

    Don’t read anything into the non-suspension suspension Oklahoma leveled at true freshman running back Joe Mixon Wednesday....

    July 31, 2014

  • In this case, Sooner fans can rest easy

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Sooner Caravan ended its summer run at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday night. OU coach Bob Stoops did not take questions, but one of the major topics was the $370 million renovation to ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Three Tigers competing for quarterback

    While some teams have had questions surrounding the quarterback position in recent years, Norman High has seen relative stability. Thanks to a three-year run by Zach Long followed up by Jakcob Dean’s ascendance last season, the Tigers ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Indians trade Justin Masterson to Cardinals

    CLEVELAND — The Indians had little choice but to give up Justin Masterson. The trade doesn’t mean they’re going to surrender the season....

    July 31, 2014

  • Cowboys sign tackle Smith to 8-year extension

    OXNARD, Calif. — Tyron Smith has a new contract that will probably make him the most important blocker for the next Dallas quarterback after Tony Romo....

    July 31, 2014

  • Quarterback questions abound with big stars gone from SEC offenses

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Quarterback battles and signal-caller questions abound in the Southeastern Conference going into preseason camps around the league. Big names, not so much....

    July 31, 2014

  • Jones says Brent out of rehab, NFL question next

    OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says former defensive tackle Josh Brent is out of rehabilitation and could have his future with the NFL resolved before the team leaves training camp in California in two weeks....

    July 31, 2014

  • Ives to crew chief for Dale Jr. in 2015

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There was no shortage of candidates to replace Steve Letarte as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief The list of applicants was long, but Hendrick Motorsports has always liked to groom its own talent. So the organization ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Gustafson wants Gordon’s team focused on Chase

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jeff Gordon viewed his Brickyard 400 win as a turning point for his race team. Confidence had been building with every strong run, but his victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway pushed his crew to another level. It was ...

    July 31, 2014