COVINGTON, Ga. — When Tre Clark and Armani Harris look back on their time at Newton High, one thing will likely always stick out.
The two Newton seniors have been best friends since eighth grade, so it just seems to make sense that they’d close out their careers as All-Covington News Co-Players of the Year.
“It’s really a great feeling,” Harris said. With (Clark) and all the stuff we’ve been through, with people doubting us and everything, we just put in the hard work and it’s clear to see what we’ve been able to accomplish at this moment. And hopefully we’ll have more stuff to accomplish at the next level.”
Harris was sitting at the table last Wednesday when Clark and fellow senior Tyrease Brown signed to VCU and Fort Valley State respectively. Harris, a 6-foot-7 power forward that just committed to Kennesaw State Monday, hadn’t made his college decision as the time. But he knew once he did, Clark and Brown would be there for him just as he was for them for their big signing day.
“Watching those guys get to go to colleges they’d been dreaming to go to is a big accomplishment for them, and I had to be there to support them,” Harris said. “I know they’d do the same thing.”
Both Harris and Clark were clearly the most dominant players in the county, and among the top in the state at their respective positions.
Harris averaged 19.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game during his 2018-19 senior campaign. Clark wasn’t too far behind, logging 19.2 points, 5.3 assists, 6.1 rebounds and 3 steals per contest. And as the season wore on, more college basketball programs were taking note. Even 2018-19 NCAA national champion Virginia was starting to get hot on Clark’s trail right before the 6-foot-3 point guard pledged to VCU.
Not bad for a couple of guys who began their senior seasons somewhat off the recruiting radar — which was just fine with them.
“A lot of people were always telling us we should be ranked like this dude or have this many offers like someone else,” Harris said. “But actually, we it as a blessing that we didn’t always have it like that. It makes you more hungry. I’m not taking anything away from the people who have the five stars and all that. I know they’re hungry too. But when you’re underrated, it definitely makes you more hungry to accomplish more.
“We said to each other, though, that we’re not gonna worry about the other dude, and just worry about what we’ve got going on.”
It seems to have worked. While Clark is all set after having officially signed to VCU last Wednesday, Harris will officially sign to KSU Friday afternoon.
Accolades and college signings aside, Clark said he was just glad to have the opportunity to play next to one of his closest friends.
“Armani and I grew up playing together, starting from middle school when we played on the same AAU team,” Clark said. “Ever since, I had a feeling that we all were going to be special and be able to play at the next level.”
Clark said he recalls fondly the days when he, Brown, Harris and Colby Rogers — a former Newton player who transferred to a school in New Jersey and recently pledged to Cal Poly.
“We all had made it our dream to play college basketball, and it feels good for us all to be a step closer,” Clark said. “But as for Armani, he’s just been a great teammate, brother and leader on and off the court. We had great chemistry to know when and where to give the ball to each other. But it all started in practice where we competed and made each other better.”
Harris and Clark are a part of a Newton senior class that won well over 100 games, accomplished a region championship three-peat and had several Elite Eight and Final Four appearances in Georgia’s largest classification.
Both players said their toughest moments this past season were stepping up to fill the leadership vacuum left by players like Ashton Hagans last year, and JD Notae, Isaiah Miller, Dre Butler and Darvin Jones the season before. Both players achieved solid leadership in their own ways — Harris more vocal and Clark a bit more on the actions-speak-louder-than-words side.
But Harris believes they did enough to leave an imprint on those Newton Rams coming behind them.
“The leadership role was the biggest challenge for sure, especially with all the young talent that we had,” Harris said. “But it was a fun season playing those guys, and hopefully the leadership we displayed keeps going and everyone just uses basketball and the program here to get to where they want to be in life.”