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Clark Is WNBA-Bound

Caitlin Clark proved her greatness during a standout college career. Now, she’s headed for the WNBA.

Caitlin Clark runs on the basketball court in front of a cheering crowd with a smile on her face.

© Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Caitlin Clark celebrates after breaking an NCAA scoring record during a game on February 15, 2024.

Caitlin Clark may not have a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title, but she’s already a basketball legend. Clark earned superstar status as a guard for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. Now, she’s headed for the WNBA.

Clark scored 30 points in the championship game of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. It wasn’t enough to win against the undefeated University of South Carolina, which beat Iowa 87–75. But fans recognized a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Almost 19 million viewers watched the game on TV or online, making the event the most popular in the history of women’s college basketball. In the stadium, the crowd gave Clark a round of applause when she was subbed out after it became clear that South Carolina would win.

Caitlin Clark dribbles the ball during a game with an opposing player attempting to steal.

© Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Clark (number 22) drives against Greta Kampschroeder of the Michigan Wolverines during a game in February 2024.

This was Clark’s goodbye to college basketball, and she had left her mark. She is the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, ranking higher than anyone in men’s or women’s U.S. college basketball. Her skills on the court are already being compared to those of the NBA’s Steph Curry and Damian Lillard. Speaking to the crowd after the championship game, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley had nothing but praise for the opposing team’s top player.

“I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport,” Staley said. “She carried a heavy load for our sport…. You are one of the GOATs [greatest of all time] of our game, and we appreciate you.”

Staley said she believes Clark will elevate the WNBA, where she’ll be playing for the Indiana Fever next season.

Caitlin Clark holds up an Indiana jersey with the number 1 on it.

© Sarah Stier/Getty Images Sport

Clark, the number one WNBA draft pick, was selected by the Indiana Fever.

Clark herself is already used to a lot of attention—the kind of attention she’ll no doubt continue to get in the WNBA.

“I dreamed of playing in front of these types of crowds in these types of environments,” Clark told Good Morning America. “During every national anthem, or every pregame, I just try to take a deep breath and look around and, you know, soak in the environment because it seriously never gets old.”

Did You Know?

Caitlin Clark in uniform on the basketball court with the balls from the sports she has played circling her head.

John McClellan (CC BY-SA 2.0), © Steven Cukrov/Dreamstime.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Growing up, Caitlin Clark played soccer, softball, and neighborhood football. She began to focus on basketball when she started high school.

Basketball for All

© Bettmann/Getty Images

This 1896 photo of the Smith College varsity basketball team was taken just three years after Senda Berenson brought the game to the college.

When Senda Berenson, a physical education teacher at Smith College, decided to organize a basketball game, she probably realized that it would be controversial. She did it anyway.

The year was 1893, and Berenson had recently read about basketball, then a new sport. Its inventor, James Naismith, was a physical education teacher, just like Berenson. But Naismith taught men, while Berenson taught women. At the time, many people believed that women and sports didn’t mix. In fact, they felt it was improper for a woman to be an athlete. Berenson disagreed. She believed in the value of physical fitness for everyone. And when she read about basketball, she decided to organize a game at her all-women’s college.

The students had such a good time that within a few years, the first intercollegiate women’s basketball game was organized between Stanford University and the University of California. A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle was impressed.

“There is not an instant of ennui [boredom] in basketball. All is motion, change, excitement,” the reporter wrote.

A group of young women in knee-length uniforms play basketball with a female coach watching.

Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-USZC4-9676)

Dating from about 1899, this photo shows young women playing basketball in the Western High School gym in Washington, D.C.

Hoops Is Number Two?

A football player has the number one spot on a podium while a basketball player and a football player each take a number two spot.

© Ilia Karpenko, Mast3r, Euang Thoummaly/Dreamstime.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Football is the most popular sport in the U.S., while basketball and baseball vie for the number-two spot. What’s your number one? 

Learn more about basketball at Britannica!

WORD OF THE DAY

the crème de la crème

PART OF SPEECH:

noun

Definition:

: the very best people or things in a group

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