He wasn’t the biggest or strongest player at the recent Nike Peach Jam but Denis Clemente was the fastest and top scorer in the star-studded event. That says a lot for the 6-foot, 165-pound Puerto Rican guard from Calusa Prep in Miami, Florida. He doesn’t pass the look test but he’ll make you a believer by the game’s end. He made believers out of a number of college coaches.
Clemente, the No. 70 rated player in the class of 2005 by Rivals.com, averaged a tournament high 25.8 points per game over four games, including an event high of 38 against the D.C. Blue Devils, who boast talented guards Tywon Lawson and Eric Price.
Now that the dust has settled from last week’s tournament, Clemente has seen his recruitment at an all-time high. His Miami Tropics AAU coach Art Alvarez, who also serves as Clemente’s liaison to the college coaches, has fielded calls from over 20 programs since returning home to South Florida.
“You have no idea how much my phone has been ringing with coaches,” Alvarez said. “All of the coaches say the same thing, ‘We knew he was good but we didn’t know he was that good.’ I thought he put on a show and he did a tremendous job. That is what he does all the time. I keep telling coaches that.”
To name a few, and that is said very tongue in cheek, Alvarez said “Miami-FL has really stepped it up with him. Arkansas - Stan Heath adores him. They want him to commit right now. And then there is, are you ready, Florida, Florida State, South Florida, Memphis, Murray State, SMU, Marquette, Western Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi State, Providence, Rhode Island, Arizona State, Louisville, Appalachian State and on and on. I’m sure I forgot someone. There is just so many.
“They’ve all said, ‘We love him. We want him to come play for us.’ That’s been my life for the last couple of days,” Alvarez said.
With so many schools inquiring about the class of 2005 prospect, Alvarez said Clemente will take his time to decide on what schools to visit. One SEC school has made a strong impression already, dating back to the regular season.
“Right now, Arkansas is the leader,” Alvarez said. “They started recruiting him before he began to blow up this summer. Coach (Stan) Heath made a commitment to him in the high school season. That is pretty big time for a young SEC coach to come down to see a player during the season. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon but Arkansas was there from the beginning.
“He’ll most likely sign in November. We won’t set up any visits until the school year gets going but Arkansas will be the first place to visit. The game plan is to identify four other schools to take visits to. After that, we’ll really get it going.”
Rivals.com will see Clemente and the rest of his Miami Tropics team at the 17U AAU Super Showcase this weekend in Orlando, Florida. Stay logged on for the most extensive coverage from the event.