03/01 14:33 CST Caitlin Clark eager to enjoy the rest of the ride at Iowa after
decision to enter the WNBA draft
Caitlin Clark eager to enjoy the rest of the ride at Iowa after decision to
enter the WNBA draft
By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) --- Caitlin Clark knew with Iowa's final regular-season
home game looming, it was time to make her decision about whether to enter the
WNBA draft or stay in college for a fifth season.
That's why Clark announced on Thursday that she would go to the WNBA at the end
of the season, following four historic seasons with the Hawkeyes. The
announcement came three days before the sixth-ranked Hawkeyes host No. 2 Ohio
State on Sunday afternoon.
"I think just going into Senior Night, having that decision clear not only for
myself, but our fans, my teammates. I think that was super important," Clark
said Friday. "And honestly, just getting the weight of the world off my
shoulders and being able to enjoy this last month with my teammates, I think is
the biggest thing."
Clark is nearing the end of a record-setting career with the Hawkeyes. She
passed Kelsey Plum as the NCAA career scoring leader on Feb. 15, then passed
Lynette Woodard as the career scoring leader in major college women's
basketball in Wednesday's game against Minnesota. Clark, who has 3,650 career
points, is closing in on Pete Maravich's NCAA career scoring record of 3,667
Clark had an additional year of eligibility that the NCAA granted to all
players who played during the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020-21 season.
"I would say, like, I've gone honestly back and forth a little bit, especially
early in the year," Clark said. "I think as the season played out, it became
more clear to me. I know I said at the beginning of the year I definitely just
kind of feel in my gut and know in my gut. And I think that's exactly what
Clark said she has known "for a little while" what she planned to do, adding
that the coaching staff has been supportive as she made her decision.
"I mean, you're obviously disappointed because you want her to come back.
Right?" Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "I mean, she's a tremendous player, and we
would have loved to have had her come back. But also, our job is to help them
for four years and to support them as best as we can and try to prepare them
for the next chapter in their lives. Her four years are up, even though she
could come back for another year. She's ready for a new challenge."
The Indiana Fever have the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft. Clark said she had not
spoken with anyone from the Fever since she made her announcement.
The game Sunday at Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena is a sellout. A pair of
courtside tickets were listed at $3,800 on StubHub on Friday morning.
Clark, the reigning national player of the year, led the Hawkeyes to the
national championship game last season before losing to LSU. The entire home
season featured sellout crowds, and few tickets, if any, were available for
"We've said this before, but when Caitlin's light shines, it shines on all of
us," forward Kate Martin said. "What Caitlin is doing individually impacts our
entire team, our entire program, our entire state, the entire country. And
that's really cool. We want the best for Caitlin, we've always had that in
mind. We want her to win all of the awards. We truly, genuinely, are very happy
Bluder said she thought Clark has been more at ease since she made her decision.
"Everyone was worried about the record, like, ?Oh, she's stressed out about the
record,'" Bluder said, referring to Clark's pursuit of Plum's scoring mark.
"She was never stressed out about the record. She was stressed out about making
That stress is behind Clark now.
"I think any time you make a big decision and you're confident in it, that's
just kind of what happens," Clark said. "And I think that's my biggest focus
going into the rest of the year. It's just smile, have fun, play free. After
this game this weekend, we're really only guaranteed two games. So I think it's
just enjoying every single second and playing and having fun."
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