WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Clements adjusting well on the Mesa

by Staff

Copyright Courtesy of SDSU Athletics Dept.

By Beau Bearden, Senior Staff Writer

It’s no coincidence sophomore Courtney Clements joined the San Diego State women’s basketball team prior to the 2009-10 season. SDSU had recruited the guard during her prep career at Millikan High School in Long Beach.

She just decided to take a longer route, an easterly one, before becoming an Aztec.

“I had always wanted to play in the Pac-10,” Clements said. “And, at the time, I just had a better relationship with the coach at Arizona.”

Clements signed her National Letter of Intent in November 2007 when Joan Bonvicini coached the Wildcats. But when the guard arrived at Arizona, there was a new head coach.

Niya Butts had taken control of the program at the conclusion of the 2007-2008 season when Bonvicini stepped down. Butts may not have recruited Clements, but she knew what the freshman could bring to the court.

“Courtney is a solid player who has had some really good workouts and possesses a lot of potential,” Butts told arizonawildcats.com. “She shoots the ball pretty well, so she will expand our offense a little bit and we’re hoping that she can become a leader as well.”

In just the seventh game of the Wildcats’ season, Clements made her first career start against Louisiana Tech. She was instrumental in keeping Arizona within reach at halftime. While the rest of her teammates shot a dreadful 2-of-22 in the first half, Clements was 6-of-13 from the field.

The Wildcats would end up losing the contest 68-53, but her performance showed that she could be a solid contributor down the stretch. In the team’s final 12 contests, she averaged 13.5 points per game en route to a season average of 10.2 ppg. At the end of the year, she was named to the Pac-10’s All-Defensive Team.

Clements may have shined at Arizona during her first year, but she wouldn’t return the following season. After her teammate Malia Nahinu transferred to SDSU, Clements decided to follow suit.

Copyright Courtesy of SDSU Athletics Dept.

“(The coaching change at Arizona) was the major reason both of us transferred,” Nahinu said. “It is hard to come into a program as a freshman, but even more to come into a brand new coaching staff and program, it just was not a good fit.”

But the Aztecs were a perfect fit for the duo, especially with the familiarity Burns had with Clements after watching her play in high school.

“I knew Coach Burns and I liked her when she was recruiting me,” Clements said. “I felt like I could have a relationship with her, a relationship that I needed from a coach.”

SDSU (1-4) is obviously not where it wants to be at this point in the season, but Clements has fit in nicely after sitting out last year. She is averaging 14 points per game in five starts, which ranks second on the team behind senior center Paris Johnson.

“I’m pretty surprised with how I’ve adjusted,” Clements said. “I thought I was going to start off pretty slow. There’s some things that I don’t do that I can accredit to sitting out a year, but it will all come back with time.”

The Aztecs will need Clements to help spark the team as it prepares for an important matchup with crosstown rival USD at 7 p.m. tonight at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. The Toreros (4-1) are coming off a 91-87 win against Columbia University, while SDSU was left reeling after dropping a 63-61 decision to Nevada on Saturday night.