Nia Clouden is a shining star in Michigan State’s bright future


Nia Clouden has emerged as one of Michigan State’s key players, averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, all while shooting 48 percent from the field. After Clouden put up double-digit points in seven of her first eight games, it was obvious Michigan State found a talented, young point guard. Having an up-and-coming freshman guard for a team that will be losing its only senior in Jenna Allen at the end of the year is big for the future of the Spartans.

The Maryland native was ranked as the 42nd best player in the nation and 14th at her position with a scouting grade of 97 by ESPN. Michigan State was fortunate enough to have Clouden land in its lap after graduating three guards in Branndais Agee, Kiara Carter and Lexi Gussert. Clouden and junior guard Taryn McCutcheon have been a deadly combo, combining for 54 total steals on the year.

Despite playing a position that often requires a commanding presence and is usually looked at as the “quarterback on the court,” Clouden doesn’t give off any vibes that would make someone think that of her. She’s timid, shy, stone-faced and isn’t a huge fan of talking to the media. Senior Center Jenna Allen is serving an older mentor for the young point guard.

“She’s so stoic. She doesn’t show any emotion and I love that about her,” Allen said. “Over the preseason and coming into the season she opened up to us a little bit. She talks more to us than she does you guys.”

Running at 6-foot-3 Iowa center Megan Gustafson and sinking a basket in her face says something about Clouden’s character. She is fearless. She will take a hit for her team if necessary.

“The kid just plays. To me, I don’t think anything really bothers her,” said coach Suzy Merchant. “She doesn’t get too high or too low. I think she can run a team.”

Numerous times I have seen Clouden foul an opponent, shrug it off and keep playing. She isn’t one to argue calls or make a scene with her coaches or teammates. She just wants to play ball. She isn’t the leader when she’s doing her sociology group project, she’s just doing her part, but when she’s on the court, she is a future leader of a very bright basketball team.  

Clouden still has a few years left serving as just a point guard, but the time will come that players look up to her for guidance. She has teammates to guide her. Taryn McCutcheon, Shay Colley and Jenna Allen will all help Clouden on her journey. But for now, she’s just a point guard doing her job.