Junior guard Jordan Clarkson has been on the other side of teammate Jabari Brown for far too long, he says.
When Clarkson, a Tulsa transplant, sat out a year for transfer rules, he went up against senior guard Brown every day in practice.
“It gets kinda old going against him,” Clarkson said.
At long last, Clarkson faced up against some unfriendly opposition as Missouri opened it’s preseason against NAIA foe Oklahoma City University on Friday with a 73-48 win.
Clarkson had seven points and six assists in 21 minutes of action. Coach Frank Haith pulled him at the start of the second half when he took a knee to the thigh.
Better to save Clarkson now and give freshman Wes Clark some experience running the point, rather than risk an injury, Haith said. After all, Clarkson had already sat out for so long.
During that stretch in 2012, Brown said, Clarkson grew more than restless to get back out on the court. Brown knows the feeling. After transferring from Oregon in Dec. 2011, Brown had to sit out the next calendar year and returned to the court mid-season for Missouri.
“I think he felt like I felt when it was finally time for me to play,” Brown said of Clarkson. “You gotta go out there and try to temper your emotions. You can't go out there and try to do too much, but I think he did a good job playing under control.”
Clarkson says finally getting back on the court was a long-awaited rush.
“It’s not a relief, but it’s just one of those feelings,” he said. “You see a new face guarding you, somebody who doesn’t know what you’re doing every day.”
Clarkson’s presence on the point was a calming factor for the Tigers, who sport a young, athletic team in 2013.
During one sequence, Clarkson drove and dropped a pass off to sophomore forward Ryan Rosburg for a dunk, plus the foul, then snagged a rebound the very next possession and fired a half-court pass to Brown for a layup on the break.
“I’m real comfortable playing alongside him,” Brown said. “I feel like sitting out last year, started our chemistry and I think it just carried over to early in the season in practice and into today, so I feel very comfortable playing with him.”
It’s those ball skills and vision Haith says will anchor an energetic bunch for Missouri. Clarkson did not turn the ball over once for MU.
“He has great instincts and he’s only gonna get better,” Haith said.