Nia Clark appears to be transferring to Marquette women’s basketball

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

Here’s what we have as evidence:

#1 – Clark posted an Instagram story that came close to saying “I’m in Marquette right now” in mid-April. This story was then retold (is that the right verb here?) by Marquette’s guard Jordan King.

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

#2 – On April 17, famous women’s college basketball scholar Raoul_000 on the Twitter machine noted Clark’s announcement and mentioned that she is a graduate transfer from Xavier. It seems like all he had to go on was the Instagram story, so this wasn’t exactly adding a level of detail here….but sometime between April 11th and April 26th, Clark herself retweeted the notation of your ad. Hard to pin this down exactly without Clark’s original tweets, but there you have it.

#3 — On April 26, Ben Schultz of Marquette Wire’s sports department noticed that Clark had changed his Instagram bio to mention Marquette’s female hoops. Again, we don’t know exactly when she made this change, but it was definitely after she posted her story of her in a Marquette uniform during a visit to Milwaukee, as she wasn’t there.

And that’s it for anything resembling hard evidence. No university press release to confirm this is the case, which leads to a bit of conjecture. MU also did not announce the addition of Kenzie Hare, although she was able to sign a letter of intent around the time she committed. This seems to indicate one of two things: 1) Someone in the MU communications office is completely asleep at the wheel, or 2) Marquette is waiting to issue a press release for all of her additions to the list at once, which means there’s still one more to go. After all, there was also no release to announce the departure of Danyel Middleton or Chloe Marotta returning for their COVID bonus season, and that second one has been known thanks to MU Wire since before the season ended.

Anyway.

Standing at 5’9”, Clark hails from Indianapolis, Indiana and she began her college career at the University of Miami in Ohio….. where she was recruited and coached by now MU coach Megan Duffy. See how it all fits together? Clark played in nine games for the RedHawks, starting six times before a season-ending injury ended. She was averaging 10.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and nearly two steals while shooting 44% from long range at the time, which is pretty good for a rookie. When Duffy took over from Marquette in the offseason that followed, Clark was transferred to Xavier.

After sitting out for a transfer season, Clark played in 13 of the Musketeers’ 15 games in the 2020-21 season, starting all 13 times. Xavier trusted her even more than Miami as her shooting totals increased but her shooting percentages dropped. Still, she averaged 11.5 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Last season, Clark started 14 times in 17 games for the Musketeers, playing more than 30 minutes a night. In terms of stats, she was up 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 the university said she had violated team rules to the point that Moore presumably had no option but to remove her from the team.

As usual, there are no details on what exactly “team rules” means, so we’re in limbo here. We know that Clark and Duffy have a relationship that dates back to 2019, so I think it’s safe to say that they had a heart-to-heart talk about exactly what led to Xavier’s firing. I was hoping Duffy would call Mel Moore to speak directly with her about her decision-making process there as well. Put it all together, and I assume that what led to Clark’s dismissal was resolved at the McGuire Center and it’s very clear that whatever it is will not be tolerated in Milwaukee.

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

Here’s the math:

2018-19: Nine games in Miami
2019-20: Redshirt on Xavier
2020-21: Full season on Xavier
2021-22: Played many games in Xavier before being removed from the team

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

This is where Marquette not announcing anything is a big headache. Maybe they’re sitting around waiting to get a decision from the NCAA before announcing that Clark will be joining the team so they can speak about it with official knowledge.

All of this leaves Marquette with a scholarship available to Duffy and his team for the 2022-23 season. I think the smart move is to extend this to 2023-24, because 14 women is a lot when playing 9 every night is considered a hefty use of your bank. Having five open grants for 2023-24 would also be helpful, as it gives Duffy flexibility in the case of Jordan King and Kennedi Myles (and maybe Clark?)

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