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Senior guard Clark Slajchert announced his graduate transfer to USC on Apr. 10.

Credit: Weining Ding

Penn men’s basketball senior guard Clark Slajchert will transfer to the University of Southern California for his final year of collegiate eligibility, he told On3Sports.

Slajchert, a Los Angeles native, returns home after an illustrious career with the Quakers. During his senior season, Slajchert led Penn in points per game, was named Second Team All-Ivy, and became the 43rd player in program history to score 1,000 points.

“[Slajchert] gets to experience the highest level, and I think he’s really ready for it at this point in his career,” coach Steve Donahue said. “I know he’s excited to go home, and I’d love for him to have an incredible experience and go to the NCAA tournament, but it’s just bittersweet a little bit.”

The departure is the result of a conflict between NCAA and Ivy League policy. In 2020, Slajchert’s freshman season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the NCAA granted all such athletes an additional year of collegiate eligibility. However, Slajchert is unable to use that year at Penn because the Ivy League prohibits graduate students from participating in athletics.

Slajchert is the second notable Penn basketball player to join the Trojans in as many seasons. Last year, Penn women’s basketball guard Kayla Padilla, who also hails from California, transferred to USC for her final year. Padilla was the fourth-leading scorer on a Trojan team that earned a No. 1 seed in this season’s NCAA Tournament.

Slajchert overcame a significant amount of adversity during his Penn career. During the COVID-19 cancelation, he suffered a swelled contusion in his quad that cut his preparation time for the following year. Then, during his senior season, Slajchert missed over a month with an ankle injury. He was nonetheless an incredibly impactful player during his time with the Red and Blue, and now gets a chance to make an impact for the Cardinal and Gold.

“In terms of competition level, I think the Big 10 is a step up,” Slajchert told The Daily Pennsylvanian. “The Ivy League is a different challenge in a lot of ways … I’ve got to be ready to be more physical, get stronger, and be ready to play against bigger guys with more athleticism.”

This season, USC men’s basketball went just 15-18 while finishing ninth in the now-defunct PAC-12. Despite a roster featuring a number of notable players, including Bronny James, problems persisted for the Trojans. New head coach Eric Musselman, who was recently hired by USC from Arkansas, hopes Slajchert will be a part of the solution next season.

“What I can bring is what I learned here, being in the Ivy League the last four years,” Slajchert said. “Being coached by coach Donahue has prepared me really well to go and play against stiff competition …  it’s an opportunity for me to prove I belong.”

With Slajchert gone and freshman guard Tyler Perkins also in the transfer portal, Penn will likely be forced to replace its top two scorers from this campaign. After winning just three Ivy League games, the Quakers will look to improve in the campaign to come, but they will do so without several of last season’s key contributors.

“These were the most formative years of my life, these last few years here have made me who I am,” Slajchert said. “I just hope I didn’t take that for granted … I knew I was so blessed the whole time I was here, and the only thing I regret is not winning an Ivy championship.”

Deputy Sports Editor Sean McKeown contributed reporting to this story.