On top of the goals one would expect a high school basketball player to set in the preseason--such as winning the conference championship and advancing to the state tournament--Thomas Stone's ebullient Jewel Clark has a special goal for her senior season.
The 6-foot-1, do-everything forward wants to dunk in a game.
Clark says she has dunked on the playground, though she hasn't dunked in practice, nor has she even tried in a game.
But with year-round basketball, weight training and increased endurance built from running cross-country, Clark can routinely grab the rim with one hand, usually getting half her hand above the rim.
"I want to dunk in a game," Clark, said. "I've joked about it in practice and told my teammates, and I think they're behind me."
Clark's biggest obstacle to dunking may be her coach, Robert Pitts.
Asked about Clark dunking in a game, Pitts replied, "I do not ascribe to that."
But that doesn't mean Pitts doubts Clark's ability.
"She's a very quick jumper, which makes her a great offensive rebounder," Pitts said. "And she's been close to the rim many times. She's got great timing and coordination."
Clark can handle the ball, shoot, rebound and defend. She averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Cougars last season, and has worked on improving her range.
"I shot 200 shots a day with my [9-year-old] brother Rodney," Clark said. "Now I really think I should make half of the threes I shoot."
Said Pitts: "She's fantastic in transition. But now she's backing it up more to shoot the three. We discussed that she would need to shoot the three for her to play in college."
Dunking--if possible--wouldn't hurt. Clark said she knows that any dunk attempt would have to come in transition.
"We'll have to wait and see if it happens," she said.