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DeJuan Clayton leaves Coppin State men’s basketball for Hartford

DeJuan Clayton, one of only five players in the history of the Coppin State men’s basketball program to score 1,500 career points, confirmed Wednesday morning that he is transferring to Hartford.

Clayton, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound point guard, confirmed a report that he had retweeted Tuesday night.

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Clayton scored 1,518 points in five years with the Eagles, ranking fifth. He also finished his Coppin career ranked third in assists (418), fourth in made free throws (437), and ninth in made field goals (470). Clayton joined Tywain McKee as the only players in school history to reach at least 1,500 points and 400 assists.

Clayton recently completed a redshirt senior season in which he led Coppin State in assists at 5.1 per game and ranked second in scoring at 14.9 points per game and third in steals at 1.6 per game despite sitting out six games to take what he described as “a mental break.” After earning spots on the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s second team as a redshirt sophomore in 2018-19 and third team as a redshirt junior in 2019-20, he was named to the first team this past winter.

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Clayton played a significant role in the Eagles capturing the MEAC’s Northern Division title — the program’s first regular-season championship in 17 years — and a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. But the team lost, 82-61, to No. 3 seed Morgan State in a semifinal in Norfolk, Virginia, on March 12.

Hartford finished 15-9 overall and 8-6 in the America East Conference this past season, defeating UMass-Lowell in the conference tournament final to reach its first NCAA tournament. The Hawks lost to No. 1 seed and eventual national champion Baylor, 79-55, in the first round.

Coppin State coach Juan Dixon said Wednesday morning he had no objections to Clayton’s decision.

“It’s OK,” said Dixon, the former Maryland standout guard. “It was time for him to go in a different direction, and I’m happy for him.”

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Clayton graduated last May with a bachelor’s in social science and was studying for a master’s in criminal justice. He had said he was considering using another year of eligibility at Coppin State or playing professionally.

“Juan Dixon kind of mentioned it to me, but I told him, ‘Let’s just focus on what we’ve got to handle now, and then we’ll figure that out at the end of the season,’” he said in March. “I try not to think about it. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea knowing that he trusts me and lets me be pretty much myself.”

Clayton’s departure is the first for the Eagles. A pair of starters in redshirt senior guard Anthony Tarke, the MEAC’s Player and Defensive Player of the Year, and senior forward Koby Thomas, a MEAC third-team selection, have not yet finalized their plans for next season.

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