From the first day Stevie Clark stepped on the Oklahoma State campus, he knew he wasn’t in high school anymore.
The freshman point guard from Oklahoma City Douglass was a two-time Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year. In his senior season he averaged 36.8 points per game for the four-time reigning state champions.
But after practicing head-to-head with Marcus Smart — a unanimous First Team All-American — Clark said he knew immediately he was in a different world.
“It was months where I couldn’t even get the ball past half-court,” Clark said. “Playing with Marcus, they were just on me hard. I just had to gather myself and just take it all in stride and go back to the basics.”
But Smart, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds, was quickly impressed by the lightning speed of the 5-foot-11 Clark.
“He pushes me to my limits,” Smart said. “I was used to guarding quicker guards, but this guy brings in another speed and intensity.”
And after learning from Smart and finally warming up to the college game, Clark has proved he’s capable of playing immediately.
He might not be the dominant scorer he was in high school, but OSU coach Travis Ford said Clark has fine-tuned his defensive game and made a statement with his natural aptitude.
“He has impressed with his ability to pass first and shoot second,” Ford said. “That’s not easy coming from a guy who was asked to score 40 points a game in high school.
“He’s got a great feel for the game. He sees everything before it gets there.”
Through two exhibitions and two regular season games, Clark’s success has been evident.
He scored double digits and impressed with defense in two exhibitions before setting a school record for assists in a freshman debut in OSU’s season-opener against Mississippi Valley State.
Clark followed that effort with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds in 21 minutes against Utah Valley.
Going forward, Ford said he hopes Clark can not only prove an effective backup to Smart, but also play alongside Smart in the heat of big games.
“If we can continue to get the production from Stevie and he can do the things we want, then he’s going to find himself in the game quite a bit,” Ford said.
“But as we keep telling him, the hard part hasn’t started yet.”