With the stress of the recruiting process weighing down on the family last week, Dorshell Clark turned away college basketball coaches' requests to come to the family's home to visit with her son, Douglass point guard Stephen Clark.
“But our church door is always open,” Dorshell told them.
As the Clarks arrived at church last Sunday morning, Missouri coach Frank Haith and one of his assistants were walking in. When the family entered the building, they saw Oklahoma State's Travis Ford and his coaching staff seated on the front row.
There is no day off from recruiting for Stephen Clark, who has been a hotly pursued prospect over the last two years.
His first scholarship offer, from Marquette, came shortly after his freshman year at Douglass, and the process has only gained steam since then. But it could be coming to an end this week, with the opening of the early signing period for basketball players set to open Wednesday.
Oklahoma State and Baylor have emerged as leaders in pursuit of Clark. The family hasn't set a specific timeline for a decision, only to say it's coming “soon,” as they battle through the rigors of the recruiting process.
“It's been overwhelming, and it's been a learning process,” Stephen said. “I can't run from anything. I've got to deal with it. It's made me grow as a person.
“The toughest part has been telling coaches ‘No.' You know you can only go to one school. They might have great coaching staffs and great facilities, but I've got to do what's best for me.”
For instance, he has built extremely strong relationships with Marquette's Buzz Williams and new Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, but other factors, like distance from home, have worked against those schools.
Clark was The Oklahoman's Super 5 Player of the Year last season after averaging 25 points and 11 assists per game. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound guard says Oklahoma State and Baylor top his list, two places that have had success recently with smaller guards.
“I like how (coach Scott Drew) has let his small point guards play,” Clark said. “A lot of his guards are in the top 15 in scoring in the school's history. He has a way of letting his point guards go play their game.”
Yet Okahoma State presents a similar case. Ford has seen a lot of small guards come through recently, like Keiton Page, Ray Penn, Cezar Guerrero and Phil Forte
“They let their short point guards go, like Keiton Page did, so hopefully I could do something like that, if not better,” Clark said. “And it's close to home, so my family will still be around me.”
The pressures of the process have been painful at times, leading Dorshell to stop talking to her son about it for a period of time, just to reduce stress in the household.
“It has been overwhelmingly stressful. Stress to the max,” she said. “It's wearing on me. We're a strong family, but it's wearing on us, too.
“We would go to one school to visit for a weekend, then we'd come home and we'd have another school wanting to come to our home on Monday. Arkansas and Kansas have come in showing interest lately, and Missouri wanted to set up a visit, but we've had to cut all the conversation back.”
Dorshell Clark left no mystery to her preference for her son.
“I think OSU would be best for him, and I like the idea of him being close,” she said. “They have my vote. They know it. He knows it. But I'm leaving it up to him. I want him to be comfortable enough to make his decision.
“And I hope it's soon. I want life to go back to normal.”