Story by Thomas Becker Photo by Justin Tang/CP
CHARLOTTETOWN - Don’t let his small stature fool you, Marquis Clayton can play and it’s why the Island Storm are thinking big by inking him to a contract.
The five-foot-nine point guard never shied away from a court filled with bigger players. Rather he relished the opportunity to compete against them and it only made him better.
“I‘ve been playing against bigger guys my entire life, so I just learned to be better at different things that would help me stay effective,” he said. “As a small guard you need to be able to shoot the ball, especially a mid-range pull-up because of all the screens we come off.”
In 2011-12, Clayton made an immediate impact on the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) stage as a member of the St. FX X-Men, playing his way to the AUS Rookie Team. Yet the fit between the two didn’t work out, as he decided to transfer to Saint Mary’s the following year, where he played for the Huskies from 2013-17. Under head coach Jonah Taussig, Clayton flourished as their lead guard – capturing an AUS championship in 2013-14 and earning two all-star nods. In his final season with the club, Clayton averaged a career-high 19 points on 43.9 per cent shooting (40.7 from beyond the arc), while dishing out 3.9 assists per game.
“Playing for Saint Mary’s gave me the ultimate confidence because coach Taussig allowed me to become the player I knew I could be,” the 26-year-old said. “He gave everyone a lot of freedom, but at the same time you needed to follow his offensive and defensive principles.”
Clayton’s reputation as a crafty guard, who’s not afraid to mix it up with the big guys, earned him a spot on the (Moncton) Magic’s roster last season, where he put up 3.7 points a game in just 10 minutes of action. Now he’s hoping to build off that experience in his second season as a professional.
“It was a great experience. I got to pick the older guys’ brains who have been pros from all over the world. The biggest thing they would tell me was to be patient. I wasn’t able to come in a play 30 minutes like I did at Saint Mary’s, it was all about waiting for my number to be called and taking advantage of it.”
Head coach Tim Kendrick’s familiarity with Clayton was a big draw when considering his roster options. Before playing opposite him at the university level, the Halifax native suited up for Kendrick and team Nova Scotia during the 2009 Canada Games in Summerside.
“Marquis was an integral piece of our Canada Games silver medal and was a standout at Saint Mary’s,” Kendrick said. “He’s a skilled competitor with deep range on his jump shot and we’re excited to add him to our roster.”
Clayton shares similar sentiments as he looks ahead to his future on the Island, playing in front of a passionate fan base who’ll embrace him.
“It was a no brainer for me. I’ve been to P.E.I. many times throughout my university career and to be able to see the fan base firsthand and the support they give their teams, it was something I wanted to be part of.”
The Storm’s eighth season is set to tip-off at Easlink Centre in mid-November.