Nia Clouden faced a more difficult situation than most rookies when drafted by the Connecticut Sun, given that the organization already had a core group of veterans and roster locks.
But that didn’t stop Clouden, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, from making the most of her opportunity in training camp, which is best depicted by her earning a roster spot as Connecticut opens its season Saturday. Now Clouden, a 5-foot-8 guard from Michigan State, knows it’s on her to continue to make the most of her chances and impress head coach Curt Miller.
“Yeah, I definitely think the best thing I can do to get some playing time is just bring energy, whether that’s vocally or whether that’s on the court making plays and stuff like that,” Clouden said on a video conference Wednesday during Connecticut’s media day. “With my conversations with Curt and all the rest of the coaching staff, they really brought me here to be like a sparkplug coming off the bench, to be a scorer. So just staying aggressive and taking my shots when they’re there, not forcing things, is definitely how I can feel like I can help this team.”
Clouden, a First-Team All-Big 10 selection each of her last two college seasons, certainly possesses the scoring touch, as she showcased with the Spartans. She averaged 20 points and 4.2 assists per game in 30 contests her senior season. Those scoring numbers ranked fifth in the Big 10 and first on her team, while her assist totals were second in the conference.
Clouden will provide depth in the backcourt while having the chance to learn from Sun guards including 11-year veteran Jasmine Thomas, Natisha Hiedeman and Courtney Williams.
“Yeah, it’s been great working with them,” Clouden said. “There’s a lot of personality in that room and (Jasmine), she’s great. She’s a great vet. If I have any questions, I’m going right to Jas. And Courtney and (Natisha), they’re really fun, crazy, outgoing people. So I’m the more quiet one in the room and I’m just taking everything in right now. So just learning from them and getting to know them more and more every day and just hanging out with them. It’s been really fun. So they’re a great group of guards to be around, especially right now early in my career.”
Clouden could benefit at the start of the season as the Sun will be without the suspended Williams, while forward DeWanna Bonner continues her postseason run with Turkey-based CBK Mersin Yeniseheir. Miller expressed how the Sun will be playing with nine players to start, and will be looking for others to step up in their respective absences.
The Sun kick off their season Saturday against the New York Liberty. Connecticut then returns to action May 14 against the Los Angeles Sparks, a game you can watch on NESN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET.