Story by Drew Amman:
Former Razorback and Butler Bulldog Rotnei Clarke was sixty miles from the Epicenter of the Coronavirus in Northern Italy. Clarke plays for Pompea Mantova of Mantua, Italy in the Italian League where play has been suspended until April 3rd.
“It was pretty surreal for me. It started out with a few cases, and like you said in a city about an hour from us, and we didn’t think too much of it at first, and a couple of minor mistakes and it started rapidly growing. It got to the point where I had to come home and had to send my family home overseas and as of right now it’s suspended until April 3rd and we hear more information,” Clarke said.
As far as the urgency to move from Italy as soon as possible, the star guard received a text from his general manager March 8th.
“Crazy situation for us, we had just decided to try to stick this thing out and keep this thing going, and literally that day got word there was a possible lock down in that region that we lived in. The Lombardy region separates into states (kinda like over here) our state and region was going to be completely locked down. I asked them to keep me informed about that. Hadn’t heard much until 10:30, 11 that night. My GM said if you’re thinking about getting out, you need to do it now because people are going to be crossing borders. We packed up what we had for eight months in about two and a half hours. Got them to the airport and thankfully they made it out and made it out safe,” Clarke adds.
In 25 games this season, Clarke is averaging 19 points and four assists per contest shooting forty-four percent from behind the arc with 81 threes. Rotnei says it makes a lot more sense financially to play overseas to care for his family versus playing in the G League. Clarke worked out for the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer.