Michigan State women's basketball senior guard Nia Clouden has been selected as the No. 12 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft and will be heading to the Connecticut Sun for training camp, which is scheduled to begin April 17. Preseason competition starts April 22 and the Sun's first game is May 7 against the New York Liberty.
Clouden is the fifth Spartan in school history to be drafted by the WNBA, the fourth-highest.
"It's incredible to be in such a small group of people. People I look up to and people I've been trying to be like since I came to Michigan State and landed in East Lansing. They've been really big role models of mine and to be in the same conversation as them is great honestly," Clouden said in a press conference following her selection.
The Sun is big on collecting Maryland-grown talent, so the Owings Mills-native will find herself right at home – she actually played against Kaila Charles, current Sun guard/forward combo, when she was at Maryland she said.
The Sun was high on her radar. She said that she had great conversations with Connecticut Sun Head Coach Curt Miller so there was no surprise when they picked her, as she was still around for their first draft grab, only appreciation.
Clouden ended the 2021-22 season with the Spartans averaging 20 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. The Sun was specifically looking for three-point shooting talent tonight, which Clouden is well known for, having shot 39.6% from beyond the arc this season.
"To be drafted is definitely a dream come true," Clouden said. "It's something that I've been wanting to achieve since I was a kid playing basketball. And then to go somewhere like Connecticut, with a great team and great players, I honestly couldn't ask for anything better to be able to come in there and learn from them."
"What was going through my head (when my name was called) was just excitement. Excitement to get drafted, to have this dream come true, to walk up on this stage and know all the hard work I put in has paid off," she continued.
Connecticut has a very deep team and competitive training camp, meaning Clouden has to be on her A-game these coming weeks to make an impact. She said she plans to work hard, be vocal and always learn from the ones that were there before her. She wants to improve her defense, her physicality and her strength overall because the WNBA is full of strong, powerful women who have been working at this a lot longer than she.
Clouden will be joined by Baylor senior guard Jordan Lewis (No. 24 pick) and Florida senior guard Kiara Smith (No. 36 pick) in Uncasville, Connecticut. Indiana senior forward Aleksa Gulbe has also accepted a training camp invitation from the Sun.
Graduate forward Alisia Smith was not drafted. The only other Big Ten women to be drafted were Northwestern guard Veronica Burton to the Dallas Wings (No. 7 pick), Michigan forward Naz Hillmon to the Atlanta Dream (No. 15 pick) and Indiana guard Ali Patberg to the Indiana Fever (No. 34 pick).
"What I want to bring to the team is a spark," Clouden said. "I don't really care how much I play, (if that's) five minutes, I'm going to give my all and give Connecticut a spark when I'm in the game. Just being a competitor, a hard worker and someone that (both) challenges my teammates and gets challenged by them is something I want to bring to the team."
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