Everything seems different for Stephen Clark.
Virtually all of the Douglass Trojan teammates he shared the basketball court with the previous two seasons have graduated.
He has gone from a situation where he was one of several players contributing points, or leadership, or toughness to being the guy his teammates often look to for those things. And he's doing it while making the transition from shooting guard to point guard.
The entire situation is a lot different and, in many respects, a lot tougher. But on the court, even when everything changes, it's all still the same for Clark.
“He's just a basketball player,” Douglass coach Terry Long said. “He's a natural, wherever he plays.
“He challenges himself. He listens. He watches film. He does what he's supposed to do.”
The last two years, Clark made a name for himself on a state and national level because of his scoring ability. But over the summer, he took his game to the next level by displaying his ability to play point guard, create his own shot, get in the lane or find the open man.
He played shooting guard at Douglass the last two seasons, because that's where Long needed him — not because that's all he could do.
“Because of his height, coaches always asked me, ‘can he play the point?'” Long said. “I told them all along that he can play it, but with what we had these last two years, we needed him out there on the wing shooting the ball.
“The only adjustment is that he's playing with some inexperienced guys now.”
Clark is confident in his playing ability, but he knew he would miss last year's seniors — particularly point guard DeVante Smith — when it came to the emotional aspects of the game.
“It's hard for me to get used to being a leader with DeVante not there,” Clark said. “I have to be the guy to make everybody else better. I have to keep everybody else's attitudes in check, when DeVante used to be the guy keeping me in check. So that's kind of hard for me.”
At 5-foot-10, his size will always be questioned. But Clark continues to answer every other challenge presented to him, and height certainly isn't scaring college coaches away.
Clark has more than a dozen scholarship offers from programs such as Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Tennessee and Notre Dame. Marquette's offer has been on the table since he was a freshman, and a variety of other programs from coast to coast have taken a spot in line.
“He's a tough, hard-nosed dude who knows how to score and has elite speed. Having that extra gear really translates to the next level,” said Evan Daniels, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com. “He can get his own shot. The range on his jumpshot is borderline ridiculous.
“He's one of the better scoring lead guards I've seen in the 2013 class.”
When his shot is falling, he's nearly impossible to guard. Play back, and he'll hit 3-pointers all night. Come out on him, and he has the speed to blow past you.
Clark is rated by Scout.com as a top-30 point guard in the country for the 2013 class, and that will only improve as he continues to show his full skill set.
And like many gifted athletes, he's never satisfied.
“He's always working to get better,” Long said. “We've been going through some old-fashioned ball-handling in practice. If there's something he's not great at, you can see him, when it's not his turn, on the side going through it on his own.
“He always works on the things that he's not great at, and that's the mark of a great player.”
Of course, being a great individual player isn't at the heart of Clark's goals right now. The Trojans have two state championships in his first two seasons, and he's ready to add another.
“People are still gonna come at us, just because we won state the last two years,” Clark said. “They want to show that they're better than us now. I'm just trying to do my best to bring everybody up to a championship level.”