NORMAN — Cameron Clark took off near the 3-point line, took a couple of dribbles from one side of the lane to the other, cupped the ball in his right hand and emphatically slammed in a windmill dunk.
It was the Sooners' top highlight play of the men's basketball season.
“Since he got here you could see how athletic and talented he was,” said teammate Andrew Fitzgerald. “Cam is capable of doing a lot of things to really help us.”
A consensus top-40 national recruit, Clark, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, has flashed potential. But his career has been defined by hot and cold streaks.
Coming off the bench for the first time in his career, Clark will try to build on his first double-digit game in nearly a month when the Sooners (11-5) host Texas Tech at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“It's just being more aggressive,” Clark said. “It's just a consistency thing, playing with more passion, playing with more confidence. That's all it boils down to.”
The Sherman, Texas, product averaged 9.3 points last year. He scored a career-high 26 points against Central Arkansas. But his first two seasons, he's had 17 games where he scored six or fewer points.
That's been Clark's track record. He scored in double figures five consecutive games during non-conference play, averaging 16.0 points over a three-game stretch. But Clark also has experienced extended slumps. Twice this season he's failed to score.
In OU's win over Kansas State on Saturday, Sooners coach Lon Kruger started both point guards — Sam Grooms and Carl Blair. Clark came off the bench after making 47 consecutive career starts.
Despite a reduced role (14 minutes), Clark was as productive as he's been in nearly a month, scoring in double figures (10 points) for the first time since the All-College Classic.
“That was a big boost for his confidence,” Fitzgerald said. “He brought a lot of energy off the bench. The first play he was in there, he got a steal and a layup. It was big for him to come off the bench and score double digits. We need Cam to do that every night.”
If Clark can provide consistent production, it gives the Sooners a fourth double-figure scoring option in addition to shooting guard Steve Pledger and forwards Romero Osby and Fitzgerald.
“Every time we line up, Cam is one of the best players on the floor,” Osby said. “We need him to be more assertive. But I don't worry about Cam because he works so hard.”
Clark is the Sooners' X factor, averaging 13.1 points in OU's wins, 6.3 points in the five losses.
“We need Cam to be aggressive,” Kruger said. “We need him to attack. We need him to do things he's capable of doing consistently. He hasn't done it on a consistent basis, yet. But the more he thinks on it, the more he focuses on it, the more of a chance he has to be more consistent.”
A potential defensive stopper, Clark can impact both ends. Part of the challenge is Clark is laid back. He's quiet.
“That's not going to change,” Fitzgerald said. “But Cam can get into it, can show some fire.”
Kruger has coached every type of personality ranging from gym rats to players that require constant motivation. Clark's work ethic is good. But sometimes he lacks an inner fire.
“He needs to consciously making an effort to change,” Kruger said. “He just needs to work at it. There are no shortcuts.”
How quickly can Clark develop into an aggressive player, where it's second nature to attack the rim?
“As long as Cam wants to make it,” Kruger said. “We'd like for it to be this week. Cam will be better at it next year than he is now. But to get results it needs to be sooner rather than later.”