Ashli Clark recently realized that college basketball could be part of her future.
The Greenbrier High School senior visited North Greenville College for a tryout, at the request of senior teammate Dorian Freeman. When the tryout was over, the coaches offered Clark a spot on the team.
She was surprised. She didn't think she had played well enough to warrant it.
Her success at that tryout led her to reach out to Clark Atlanta University, where she had already been accepted academically. She requested an open tryout from women's basketball coach Vanessa Moore and was given a date to show up.
There, she and other potential players scrimmaged with Clark Atlanta's current players and participated in individual drills. Moore told Clark she had the most potential of any who tried out and offered her a spot on the team and a scholarship.
"It was amazing," Clark said. "I didn't expect it."
The offer might have come as a surprise to Clark because she served mainly as a role player her senior season, though she was a starter. She was a defensive stopper who said she did not begin working on offensive moves until Wolfpack coach Dana Bull helped her this season.
But Clark Atlanta coaches saw that Clark, who stands 5-feet 10-inches tall, had the potential to be a force with the athleticism she already possesses combined with some time dedicated to the weight room.
"She needs to really be willing to work harder than she's ever worked before," Bull said. "That's something we kept telling her, 'You've got the potential, now use this opportunity to develop that.'"
Clark's primary responsibility as a senior was to play tough defense and rebound. Her size and athleticism are suited to both. Offensively, things did not come as easy.
Last season was Bull's first as Greenbrier's girls basketball coach, and she brought an emphasis on post play.
Bull worked with Clark on her mid-range shot, but also on maintaining position in the post and knowing how to maneuver there. Clark characterized her initial post moves as clumsy, but said she learned to make confident moves to the basket and where to position herself on the block.
"I still need to get to the point where I'm more confident doing it," Clark said. "I'm to the point where I have them down and know what I need to do and don't need to do."
Clark said her new coaches told her they would need her to be equal on offense and defense, but Bull thinks her former player could thrive in college by continuing to be a defensive presence and pulling down rebounds -- that points on the other end would be a bonus.
"She's got the athleticism and talent," Bull said. "She'll do well at the next level."
One of the first things Clark Atlanta coaches stressed to their future player was to get in the weight room. Clark said she plans to start a club membership and work out on her own, but would also check with the school and see whether it had a workout plan she could follow this summer.
"She told me if I hit the weight room I'd get a full ride," Clark said. "That's one thing I do need to do."
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