CSU just bolstered their roster with two big-time guard transfers in Nique Clifford and Javonte Johnson.

On Thursday, Colorado State head coach Niko Medved sent out this tweet, alerting the world to some sort of major move:

After doing a little searching, it was clear the Rams were looking at bringing in Clifford from the rival CU Buffaloes and Javonte Johnson, formerly of New Mexico in the Mountain West. The surprising part was Medved and the Rams being able to actually bring both in at the same time:

As we explained last week, the Rams lost John Tonje and Isaiah Rivera to the transfer portal and new teams, while CSU announced the signing of 6’7″ Joel Scott of Monument, CO. Now, adding to the mix is both Clifford and Johnson who grew up in Colorado Springs and played club ball together back then.

In fact, it’s a little reminiscent of Tim Miles’ teams that were heavy on players from Nebraska including Greg and Dwight Smith as well as Wes Eikmeier and Jesse Carr.

Nique Clifford

Nique [Dominique] Clifford is the headline move of these two signees for a few reasons.

First, he’s a former Colorado Buffaloes guard. For Medved to land a transfer from CU is a big deal considering the teams are longstanding rivals and the fact that the Buffs are a solid team on the rise. Secondly, Clifford was a starter for CU last season, meaning he’ll be able to start immediately at CSU this fall.

In 21.8 minutes per game last year, Clifford averaged 5.9 points and 3.9 rebounds, scoring double digits seven times. He also had 20 blocks, which is phenomenal for a 6’6″ guard, and 25 steals last year; clearly he takes defense seriously.

There are some question marks around his play, though. His shooting percentages left something to be desired at 37.4% from the floor, 28.8% from 3-point range and 60.6% from the line. He also plays a little too much one-on-one at times and will need to play more team-oriented ball with the Rams.

If Isaiah Stevens returns because he isn’t drafted into the NBA, that team-oriented bit should clear up considering Stevens is the team’s floor general at the point. Stevens should be able to get him better, open looks and hopefully near the hoop.

Javonte Johnson

Joining Johnson is his former club basketball teammate in Clifford, too, which is a phenomenal one-two punch for the Rams.


Johnson, like Clifford, is a junior. He went to the University of New Mexico after playing his high school ball at Cheyenne Mountain in the Springs.

At UNM Johnson started 33 games last season, averaging 5.8 points and 3.6 rebounds, nearly identical stats to Clifford’s. He’s also 6’6″ and plays the 2/3 position. For Johnson, it’s important to note he heated up as the season wore on, scoring in double digits five times over the Lobos’ final nine games last year.

In terms of shooting averages, he’s a bit more consistent than Clifford, making 45.8% from the floor, 31.0% from downtown and 91.3% from the charity stripe.

Eligibility: Both Clifford and Johnson are juniors, however, both of them have two years of eligibility remaining due to COVID. So, if things go well next year, the Rams should be able to continue to build with them going into 2024-25, too.

Rams lineup shaping up for 2023-24

If Isaiah Stevens comes back, the Rams are all of a sudden stacked.

Stevens was First-Team All-Mountain West last year as the conference’s best point guard and he’ll have the talented scorers of Clifford, Johnson and Joel Scott. Scott, who is 6’7″, averaged 23.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game at Black Hills State, a DII school last year.

This isn’t a rebuild, it’s a reload for 2023-24.

Patrick Cartier is back, too, giving Colorado State yet another starter and one with solid size (6’8″).

While it’s early to guess, one could see a starting five of Stevens, Clifford, Johnson, Scott and Cartier in 2023-24. Plus, sophomore Jalen Lake took some solid steps forward this year, so he could be the Rams’ sixth man.

Medved and the Rams went to the NCAA Tournament in 2021-22, led by David Roddy who was accompanied by Stevens and others. It looks like the green and gold have their sights on winning more games and making it back to postseason tournaments starting next year.