Fans of the Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team will likely consider it welcome and exciting news to see that junior point guard Nia Clouden’s name is not in the 2021 WNBA Draft set to take place on April 15.
The WNBA released the names of 52 college players, excluding those in the Final Four, who have put their names into the 2021 WNBA Draft. Neither Nia Clouden, nor any Spartans for that matter, have chosen to enter the draft. This should bode well for those wanting to see the leading scorer for the Spartans return to the Green and White for her final season.
Clouden started in all 24 games for Michigan State this past season, averaging 33.3 minutes per game. She led the team in scoring, assists, steals, and in all three categories from the charity stripe (attempts, makes and percentage). Clouden averaged 18.7 points per game, 3.9 assists, 1.6 steals, and also averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. Clouden leading the team in points, assists, and steals per game makes her the first Spartan to have done so since Kris Emerson in the 1985-86 season. Clouden also went 103-for-132 from the charity stripe, good for 78 percent.
Clouden finished the season with 448 points, the most since Tori Jankoska’s record breaking 746 points in the 2016-17 season. Clouden also scored a career-high 34 points versus Michigan during the season — tied for seventh-most in school history — and makes her just the fifth Spartan to net 34 points in a game, but first to do so since 2008. She posted three games of at least 30 points, all against top-25 opponents. She also ranks 13th in all-time scoring at MSU with 1,281 points.
Clouden has received All-Big Ten honors for three straight seasons. She received All-Big Ten first-team honors, along with being named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team this past season, making her the first to earn All-Tournament honors since Aerial Powers in 2016. Clouden also received honorable mention honors as a freshman, and was named to the All-Freshman squad in the 2018-19 season, becoming the first Spartan to do so since Powers in the 2013-14 season. Then as a sophomore, Clouden was named to the All-Big Ten Second team.
Barring what would seem like stunning news of a transfer decision, or some sort of late waiver granted by the WNBA to get into the WNBA Draft, it will be exciting to see Clouden return to East Lansing for her senior season. Hopefully another year will also help buoy her draft prospects even further than her outstanding resume does already.
The last Spartan to be drafted by the WNBA was Tori Jankoska in the 2017 draft. The players from around the Big Ten who have entered the 2021 draft include:
- Kate Cain, Nebraska
- Arella Guirantes, Rutgers
- Akienreh Johnson, Michigan
- Lindsey Pulliam, Northwestern