Caitlin Clark, Kate Martin Drafted in WNBA

Hawkeyes Hear Names Called Monday
Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after
Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark went No. 1, as expected, to the Indiana Fever in Monday’s WNBA Draft.

That didn’t make the moment any less emotional for Clark, who added another line to a resumé of history.

Clark, who led the Hawkeyes to runner-up finishes in the last two NCAA Final Fours, has experienced joy and heartbreak in a brilliant four-year career.

Now, a new journey begins.

“Yeah, honestly, I feel like this was definitely a little bit more emotional for me.I think that's because when you're in the heat of competition, you don't have time to really feel your emotions,” Clark said. “You're so competitive and you're so fiery, you're not really worried about all that. I think that was the biggest thing through my career is, first of all, I was able to have a lot of closure in the way my career ended and everything I was able to do. Obviously, I played the maximum number of games I could play my senior year. Obviously, we didn't win, but you feel like you did everything you can to be in that moment and compete as hard as you can.

“But when you're kind of just sitting at a table waiting for your name to be called, I think that really allows the emotions to feed you and you're with your family. Obviously, playing a basketball game, I'm not out there with my family. So sharing that moment with them and enjoying it, and people that have really had my back and believed in me more than anyone, is super special.”

Clark became the first Iowa player to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and one round later she was joined in the league by teammate Kate Martin, who was selected with the 18th overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces.

Clark ended her career as major college basketball’s all-time leading scorer with 3,951 points. She led the nation in scoring and assists the last two seasons, the first player to do that in back-to-back seasons.

Clark, the consensus national player of the year, was destined for the Fever as soon as she declared for the draft in late February.

“Well, I know the Indiana Hoosiers didn't love me too much during my career, but hopefully we can turn a lot of them into Fever fans, if they're not already,” Clark quipped. “I think going to a state that supports not only basketball but women's basketball, going and playing in front of … at Indiana, the place is sold out. Doing the same for the Fever is certainly our goal, and having a lot of fans there every single night.

“For myself, I can't imagine a more perfect fit, a better place for me to start my professional career, an organization that really just believes in women's basketball and wants to do everything the right way. So I couldn't be more excited to get there.”

“Coaching Caitlin Clark was a blessing,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “She is and will be a game-changer for women’s basketball. It’s insurmountable how much she has given back to the program and our university. She is 1-of-1 and I can’t wait to watch her at the next level.”

Clark and Bluder shared a moment after the selection was announced.

“I think the biggest thing is I vividly remember Coach Bluder during my home visit in my recruiting,” Clark said. “It was at the end of my junior year, I believe, or maybe the beginning of my junior year. Some time during my junior year. I think the biggest thing is we talked about this moment, we dreamed of this moment, but she also believed I would be here and she coached me really hard to get to this moment.

“There were a lot of ups and downs. Something I really appreciated about Coach Bluder is no matter what awards or success or wins we ever had or I had, it's like she never stopped coaching me, she never stopped holding me accountable. She always thought there were ways for me to get better. She still thinks that, and I still think that. That's one of the things I just love about her. First of all, she believed I would be here from the day I committed to her, even before that when I was in eighth grade, but also she pushed me really hard to make me as good as I am.”

Clark hasn’t had much time to rest after the season. She appeared at Iowa’s women’s basketball celebration last week, went to Los Angeles to accept the Wooden Award, then headed to New York for Monday’s draft. She also appeared on Saturday Night Live on Saturday.

“I think the biggest thing is I'm just very lucky to be in this moment, and all these opportunities and these things, they're once in a lifetime,” Clark said. “When things might get tiring or you have to do stuff, I think the biggest thing is look at it just as an opportunity. This isn't something everybody gets to do. It's once in a lifetime, and just trying to soak in every single experience because I know how quick of a turnaround it is, and I have a lot of people helping me.”

Martin joins former teammate Megan Gustafson with the Aces.

“I’m so proud of Kate because her dreams came true,” Bluder said. “She has been such a big part of our program over the last six years. Her efforts did not go unnoticed by her peers. I wish Kate all the success with this next step.”


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John Bohnenkamp

JOHN BOHNENKAMP

I was with The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) for 28 years, the last 19-plus as sports editor. I've covered Iowa basketball for the last 27 years, Iowa football for the last six seasons. I'm a 17-time APSE top-10 winner, with seven United States Basketball Writers Association writing awards and one Football Writers Association of America award (game story, 1st place, 2017).