Is Chris Clarke the Final Piece for Texas Tech to Repeat as Big 12 Champs?
Chris Clarke was a 4 star prospect coming out of high school in Virginia back in 2015. He chose Virginia Tech and had three productive seasons with the Hokies as a 6'6" bruiser that did whatever was asked of him. Through his first three seasons at VT he averaged 6.5 rebounds and 9.2 points per game. Clarke wasn't a starter full time but he did start 29 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons before settling into a 6th man role as a junior and playing in all 33 games logging 24 minutes per game.
The numbers on Clarke are incredibly effecient offensively. He lives inside the paint and can finish effectively at the rim. He finished with a shooting percentage over 60% in his final two seasons at VT and while he's not known as a three point shooter he did convert on 42% of his minimal attempts as a junior, though that's not a number I would expect at Texas Tech. Clarke also excels at getting to the rim and drawing contact, but as a 64% free throw shooter he didn't make the opponent pay as often as he should.
As a high school recruit Clarke was billed as "Virginia's Most Exciting Player" and he lived up to the hype. As a grad transfer he was rated in the top 10 players moving teams by ESPN's Jeff Borzello.
The move to sign Chris Clarke has been widely praised as a slam dunk for Chris Beard with most of the national prognosticators saying things like Jeff Goodman said:
Here was my favorite description of Clarke after the news broke he was committing to Texas Tech:
There is a dark cloud of smoke above Clarke though as he moves from Virginia Tech to Texas Tech. According to roanoke.com Clarke was suspended during the 2018-19 season for internal reasons. In March, before the Hokies were set to play in the NCAA tournament, a fellow Hokie and the suspended Clarke were both arrested for possession of Marijuana. Clarke's roommate was still playing on the team at this point was tested and the results were negative.
This could certainly be a case of the wrong place at the wrong time though the same article states that Clarke was charged with "a Class 1 misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense for alleged marijuana possession" which makes it sound like a recurring problem. An update to the story says Clarke is slated for a court appearance in July.
The good news is that Chris Beard knows the situation better than the public does and he has drawn the conclusions that this won't be a problem in Lubbock.
Strictly on the court, Texas Tech hit the lottery with Chris Clarke. Defensively he's a nightmare and will seamlessly transition into the bait and switch defense that Texas Tech runs. Guarding the 1-4 anywhere on the floor and getting a body on any 5 in the Big 12 in help defense won't be a problem. Offensively I have a feeling Texas Tech will be more wide open next season with a transitional nightmare squad being built with Jahmius Ramsey, Chris Clarke and the rest of the athletes on the roster.
With Chris Clarke claiming the 12th available scholarship, barring any more transfer portal news, it looks like Clarke will slip into an extreme glue role that either gives you 25 minutes from the starting tip or off the bench. Wherever he starts the game Clarke will be in the mix to be a game changer. What Clarke won't be is the final piece to this puzzle.