During the Vanguard boys basketball’s historic run to the state championship game last year, it became clear that Vanguard’s Dominique “Nique” Clifford was destined for Division I basketball.
It was only a matter of where.
Friday, Clifford announced his commitment to the University of Colorado through a two-part video series on Twitter.
“I would like to start off by saying thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me,” Clifford said in his commitment video. “I could not have done it without the help and support from my mom, dad, grandparents, teachers, friends, coaches, teammates and trainers.”
Since he was a kid Clifford had dreamed of playing basketball at UCLA, but when and offer didn’t come he chose the next best thing — to play the Bruins twice a year.
“I think God has a plan for everyone so I think getting to play them is just as good — I’ll just have to show them what they missed,” Clifford said.
He said he’s excited about the freedom of college life, and transitioning to a much bigger school and program than Class 3A Vanguard.
“Basketball wise it’s going to be a lot different with the competition levels, but it’s been my goal all my life. I’ll be ready for it when the time comes,” Clifford said.
His time might come earlier than typical recruits, as Clifford said CU coaches hopes he will have an immediate impact on the team as a freshman.
“They see me playing combo guard and they honestly think I could take them to the next level as a program,” Clifford said. “Of course it all has to be earned, but it’s the big time and big goals for me so I’m on the grind to prove them right.”
In three varsity seasons at Vanguard, Clifford has averaged 14.5 points per game, including a career-high double-double average of 18.9 points and 11.3 rebounds as a junior.
His junior season, in which he helped the Coursers to the Class 3A state championship game, was sparked by a 5-inch growth spurt in the off season. His height, 6 feet, 5 inches, quickness and flair made him one of the most dangerous shooting guards in the state.
He has received 11 Division I offers, including from Stanford, Denver, Northern Colorado, Colorado State and Wyoming. He went on official visits to CU, CSU and Wyoming in the last month.
Clifford said it was a touch decision between Wyoming, CSU, Stanford and CU, but chose to go on official visits at certain schools because of the connection he felt with the coaches.
“All of the places I visited were super nice, but Colorado had the best campus, and on my visit I just felt at home,” Clifford said. “It really just hit different than other schools.”
“What stands out most about Dominique is his personality,” said Vanguard coach Joe Wetters in the commitment video. “He’s a fearless leader and very intelligent on the basketball court. I think what separates him most is his ability as a lead guard to put himself in position to make the team better, and that’s what he’s good at.”
Clifford is listed as a four-star recruit and ranked No. 83 nationally on 247 sports among the top 2020 basketball recruits.