Big Play Clay

Feb. 3, 2006

By Chris Purser
Athletics Media Relations Student Assistant

New players generally mean new excitement and that has certainly been the case for this season's Ole Miss Rebel basketball team, and in particular, newcomer Clarence Sanders.

In a season where 12 players are battling for minutes on the floor, Sanders has showed some flashes of greatness and quickly asserted himself as a big time playmaker for Ole Miss. The junior transfer has already recorded seven double-digit scoring efforts this season, including a season-high 20 in helping end the Rebels' two-game losing streak to Arkansas State. Against the nationally-ranked Memphis Tigers, Sanders led the team with 13 points, forcing the Tigers to adjust to the Phenix City, Ala., native.

"That's what I'm here for," said Sanders. "I just keep working hard and practicing everyday, trying to make other team's play our type of game."

Even though Sanders may not be the biggest player on the Ole Miss roster this season at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, he has become one of the Rebels' "big play" guys, hitting three free throws in the final 23 seconds in the 65- 59 win over Western Carolina. Against South Carolina, Sanders helped swing momentum in Ole Miss' favor with a steal in the first quarter that allowed the Rebels to go up two scores.

It is those types of performances and his strong play in practice that has allowed head coach Rod Barnes to give Sanders the "Green Light", telling him to take an open shot if he has it instead of looking to pass.

"I'm kind of proud of that," said Sanders. "I came here hoping to impress the coaching staff with my ability and work ethic. I guess it is working."

Known to his teammates as Clay, Sanders arrived at Ole Miss via the JUCO ranks. While at Okaloosa-Walton Community College, Sanders developed into the nation's top junior college shooting guard, a lofty status that he says came more natural to him than he expected.

"In junior college, I felt like I had to work everyday from start to finish," said Sanders. "As the season went on, it became easier and easier to make the big shots. I found myself not having to work as hard to keep my game up."

Coming to Ole Miss, Sanders has found that the competition has risen several notches, something he had looked forward to experiencing.

"Since coming here, I have had to step up my game," said Sanders. "Junior college became easy. Here, everybody is good. But I like it like that. It gives me the opportunity to prove myself, to work hard and show everybody what I can do."

... And to help the Rebels return to the postseason.

"That is something we as a team have set for this season," said Sanders. "We want to have a winning season and get back to the show (NCAA Tournament)."

 

 

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