Transfer Clark signs, gets ‘last chance’ at Oakland

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Stevie Clark averaged 14.1 points last season at Oklahoma State, and led the nation in free-throw percentage at 91.7 percent.

Stevie Clark’s former coach and new coach — he signed with Oakland on Friday — aren’t worried about off-court issues that derailed the early part of his college career.

“He’s growing up,” said Charles Ripley, coach at Arkansas Baptist College, where Clark played last season. “He wasn’t a perfect angel, but no kids are. He was no major problem.”

Clark, 21, committed to Oklahoma State out of high school, considered by many the best player in Oklahoma’s history. He also was recruited by UCLA and Connecticut.

But in less than a year, he was kicked off the team following a citation for marijuana possession and a public-urination incident.

“What the kid’s done is more foolishness,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “He hasn’t done anything, you know, that a lot of kids don’t do.

“When he came out of high school, I think he had some entitlement issues. He’s one of the greatest players in Oklahoma history, being heavily recruited, being told, ‘You’re a pro.’ And he got humbled.”

After being kicked off the team, Clark filed suit against Oklahoma State and then-coach Travis Ford, alleging hazing and that Ford put him on mental-health drugs against his will. Clark claimed the drugs gave him suicidal thoughts.

Clark also never got the minutes he thought he deserved with the Cowboys.

“He’s a kid looking for a second chance,” Kampe said. “He’s a very talented player looking for a second chance. Lots of kids make mistakes, and he knows this is his chance, and it’s his last chance.”

Clark is expected to replace Kay Felder, who declared for the NBA after his junior season.

And, Kampe sees similarities between the two.

“If you look at them as players, they’re similar in size (Clark is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds; Felder is 5-9 and 176), strength, things like that,” Kampe said. “The difference (is) Kay was more of a pass-first point guard that turned into a scorer.

“And I think Stevie will come in here to score. That’s what we recruited him to do. We lost 24 points a game. We don’t need 24 points a game out of him, but we need a guy that can score.”

Clark averaged 14.1 points last season. He shot 40.1 percent overall, 39.3 percent on 3-pointers. He also shot 91.7 percent on free throws, which led the nation.

“Oh, yes, he’s a Division I player, there’s no question about that,” Ripley said. “They all have issues. I think that’s behind him.”

Clark didn’t return multiple messages from The News seeking comment.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984