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Nia Clark Appears To Be Transferring To Marquette

We held off on running this for a minute until we got something a little bit more substantial.

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Xavier at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I like things being officially announced. It certainly makes it more obvious, that’s for sure. However, sometimes, you have to go on less than official means of knowing things, and that’s what we have here. All indications, minus an official announcement from Marquette, are that Xavier guard Nia Clark will be transferring to MU to play for Megan Duffy.

Here’s what we have as evidence:

#1 — Clark put up an Instagram story that walked right up to the edge of saying “I am at Marquette now” back in the middle of April. Said story was then re-storied (is that the right verb here?) by Marquette guard Jordan King.

Ephemeral at best, especially because it was a “here for 24 hours only” story and not an actual “it’s here forever” Instagram post.

#2 — On April 17th, noted women’s college basketball scholar Raoul_000 on the Twitter machine noted Clark’s announcement and mentioned that she’s a grad transfer from Xavier. It would appear that all that he had to go on was the Instagram story, so this wasn’t exactly adding a level of detail here.... but at some point between April 11th and April 26th, Clark herself retweeted the notation of her announcement. Hard to pin that down exactly without original tweets from Clark, but there you go.

#3 — On April 26th, Ben Schultz from the Marquette Wire sports department noted that Clark had altered her Instagram bio to mention Marquette women’s hoops. Again, we don’t know exactly when she made that change, but it was definitely after she posted the story of her in a Marquette uniform whilst on a visit to Milwaukee as it was not there then.

And that’s it for anything resembling hard evidence. No press release from the university to confirm this is the case, which does lead to a bit of conjecture. MU also hasn’t announced the addition of Kenzie Hare, even though she was able to sign a letter of intent right around the time that she committed. This would seem to indicate one of two things: 1) Someone in the MU comms office is completely asleep at the wheel, or 2) Marquette is waiting to issue a press release for all of their additions to the roster at one time, which means that there’s still one more to go. After all, there hasn’t been a release to announce Danyel Middleton’s departure or Chloe Marotta returning for her COVID bonus season either, and that second one has been known thanks to the MU Wire since before the season ended.

Anyway.

Standing at 5’9”, Clark hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, and she started out her collegiate career at Miami University in Ohio..... where she was recruited and coached by now-MU head coach Megan Duffy. See how that all fits together? Clark played in nine games for the RedHawks, starting six times before a season ending injury shut her down. She was averaging 10.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, and just short of two steals while shooting 44% from long range at the time, which is pretty great for a freshman. When Duffy took the Marquette job in the ensuing offseason, Clark transferred to Xavier.

After sitting out for a transfer redshirt season, Clark played in 13 of 15 games for the Musketeers in the 2020-21 season, starting all 13 times. Xavier relied her even more than Miami had as her shooting totals went way up, but her shooting percentages all went down. Still, she averaged 11.5 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. This past season, Clark started 14 times in 17 appearances for the Musketeers, playing over 30 minutes a night. Stats-wise, she was at 11.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals a night..... when head coach Melanie Moore kicked her off the team in February. She was leading XU in scoring at the time when the university said that she had violated team rules to the degree that Moore was presumably left with no other option but to remove her from the team.

As usual, no detail on exactly what “team rules” means, so we’re left in a bit of limbo here. We know that Clark and Duffy have a relationship that dates back past 2019, so I think it’s safe to say that they had something of a heart-to-heart about exactly what led to her dismissal from Xavier. I would hope that Duffy rang up Mel Moore to talk to her directly about her decision-making process there as well. Combine all of that, and I presume that whatever led to Clark’s dismissal has been settled at the McGuire Center and it’s very clear that whatever it was won’t be tolerated in Milwaukee.

That brings us to the mystery of Clark’s eligibility status. Here’s what I am using for the scholarship chart until someone at 770 North 12th Street corrects me:

Here’s the math:

2018-19: Nine games at Miami
2019-20: Redshirt at Xavier
2020-21: Full season at Xavier
2021-22: Played a lot of games at Xavier before removed from team

I’m counting two seasons of eligibility used there for sure. Xavier called her a Redshirt Freshman in 2020-21, which implies that she had a medical waiver for her injury shortened 2018-19 season.... but I can’t prove that, especially with nothing mentioned in the press release announcing her addition to the team. Until someone says different, I’m saying that her year at Miami counts as a year of eligibility. That has her at Marquette in 2022-23 in her fourth year of playing with the possibility of playing a fifth bonus year due to the COVID pandemic. It is possible that Clark has that medical season, and that would make her a “junior” in terms of eligibility for this coming season and give her two years at MU with an option for a third.

This is where Marquette not announcing anything is a huge pain in the butt. Perhaps they’re sitting back waiting to get a ruling from the NCAA before announcing Clark joining the team so they can speak to that with official knowledge.

All of this does leave Marquette with one scholarship left available to Duffy and her staff for the 2022-23 season. I would think that the smart move is to roll that over to 2023-24 because 14 women is a lot when playing 9 every night is considered to be a robust use of your bench. Having five scholarships open for 2023-24 would be useful as well since that gives Duffy flexibility in case Jordan King and Kennedi Myles (and maybe Clark?) elect to spend their COVID bonus season at MU.