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Darion Clark Makes Impressive Impression
Courtesy: Charlotte Sports Information
          Release: 11/09/2012
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Darion Clark introduced himself to Niner Nation at the 16:02 mark of the second half of the 49ers exhibition victory over Pfeiffer.

Willie Clayton corralled a rebound at one end and hit point guard Pierria Henry with an outlet pass.  Henry found Clark racing down the left side, fed him and joined Niner Nation as they watched Clark take off and throw down a two-handed flush over a defender Josh Humphrey.

It was strong.  It was athletic.  And it was as if Clark opened up a Facebook page and said, "here I am".

Niner Nation, for their part, responded with a rousing ovation.

Clark and fellow freshman forward Clayton have similar skills, play similar roles and bring similar fire. 

"Willie and Darion are almost book-end forwards," Head Coach Alan Major said.  "They both provide tremendous energy and they've given depth on the front line, which we needed as well."

They are both strong and athletic.  They both can score around the basket.  And they both love to rebound.  Both recorded double-doubles in the exhibition win, combining for 22 of the 49ers 56 rebounds.

Clark made the quickest impression, scoring the 49ers first points in the exhibition win.  By the time it was over, he had led the 49ers to the 44-point victory with a team-best 19-point, 12-rebound performance.   He was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, hit 9-of-13 free throws and was equally impressive on the offensive (6 rebounds) and defensive (6) glass.

It was refreshing to see a big man who wanted to own the paint.  Clark is big and strong -- and he wants to flex his muscles in the lane.  He scores inside.  He scores, like on his two-handed, leave nothing to doubt dunk, when he is fouled.  And he scores around the basket.  Lay-up.  Put back.  Dunk. Dunk. Layup.

He also hustles.  He ran down a long rebound on a missed three-pointer, wrestled the loose ball away from Humphrey, spun and found Terrence Williams for a breakaway dunk.

And he's unselfish.  He was charged and credited with doing much of the dirty work for Oak Hill Academy during their unbeaten season, last year.  Oak Hill was ranked as the nation's top program.  Clark didn't grab the headlines.  He just grabbed the rebounds.

For the 49ers young team, maturity is a key.  Clark's physical maturity was on vivid display last Thursday.  At the same time there were moments that showed his game experience.  Playing with Oak Hill and against the quality of opponent they ran into on a regular basis gives Clark a step up as a college freshman.

This season, the 6-6 rookie will run into plenty of guys equally strong and equally athletic.  They will test him.  They will challenge him.

The great news for the 49ers is that those very same players -- when they face the 49ers -- will run into Clark.  He will, likewise test and challenge them.

The exams start tonight.

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