Fresh off a thrilling buzzer-beater against Marquette in the Maui Invitational, there’s no better time for the Atlantic 10 Sharpshooter’s Eye Series to zero in on Rotnei Clarke of Butler.
In the final part of this series, Ian Nolan chats with Clarke, one of the best shooters in the Atlantic 10 Conference, about the art of shooting. Clarke arrives at Butler from Arkansas after distinguishing himself as an assassin from long range. In 2008, he led all freshman in three point percentage, scored 51 points in a game as a sophomore while connecting on an SEC record 13 three pointers, and now looks to cap his career with an Atlantic 10 title at Butler in his first season playing for Brad Stevens’ club.
Clarke enters the A10 as the league’s most decorated shooters. Credit: John Fetcho
Ian Nolan: From who or where did you learn to shoot?
Rotnei Clarke: My father. Ever since I can remember, he was working with me shooting. Even when I was two or three years old, he bought one of those pre-school ‘tykes’ goal and I was in there shooting on it every chance I got.
IN: How much of shooting is mental to you? Do you always think your shot is going in regardless of past shots, or does it depend on being “hot”?
RC: I think most of it is mental. Obviously you’ve got to put the time in and put a lot of practice in to it and get a lot of reps. But at the same time, your mind is what controls a lot of it. In games, you have to believe you’re going to hit the next one, regardless of what has happened. It’s keeping that positive focus.
IN: When you practice shooting on your own, at what distance to you usually practice?
RC: I usually start in close, and I work on form shots. Then I work my way out and eventually get a couple of steps beyond the three-point line.
IN: What other shooters do you enjoy watching in the NBA? College?
RC: I love watching Ray Allen, and I loved to watch J.J. Redick in college when he played at Duke. There are so many good shooters. I love to watch Steve Nash; his form is so pure. I’m looking forward to being in the A-10 and seeing the great shooters there and competing with those guys.
IN: What are your favorite arenas to shoot at and why?
RC: Right now the only A-10 arena I’ve played in is Hinkle Fieldhouse, and I love it. Hinkle is just a cool place to be in, regardless if your playing or just to come in and see the place. The history and tradition; it’s just a great place.
IN: What is your favorite spot on the floor to spot up from?
RC: I like the top of the key, but it doesn’t really matter, because I practice from every angle and every spot.
IN: What is the hottest you’ve ever been since entering college?
RC: The first game in my sophomore year against Alcorn State. I just got in one of those grooves where it felt like everything I put up was going in. (Clarke hit 13 three-point field goals against Alcorn State and set an Arkansas single game record with 51 points.)
IN: Does it matter to you if a team is playing zone/man/match-up/pressing, etc.?
RC: It doesn’t really matter as long as we execute the way we want to.
IN: Most threes you’ve ever hit in a row in practice/workouts?
IN: Is there a spot on the floor that you consider “too” far to pull up from? Or is there no limit given how you feel?
RC: There is a limit. I feel comfortable three or four steps inside half court, but coming up and shooting that shot is not going to be the best shot for us most of the time.
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