To say that the 2022-23 season was a banner year for Caitlin Clark would be an understatement. Where does one begin on what the Junior achieved for during her third season for the Iowa Hawkeyes?
There are a lot of things to go over as Clark looks ahead to her future. Let’s break it down as to what she’s done, what is in her immediate future, and what the professional landscape will look like for her going forward.
The NCAA Tournament
First, and most importantly to Clark herself, is the run the Hawkeyes put on in the NCAA Tournament. After back-to-back disappointing exits, Clark made it known that a third performance like that would not be allowed.
She proceeded to put the Hawkeyes on her back in a run that the Iowa faithful will no doubt remember for a long time to come. She carried Iowa to just their second Final Four appearance in program history, doing so by taking down the juggernaut of South Carolina – sporting an unbeaten record and having won the title the previous year – with one of the most dominant efforts in history.
There are also a few ridiculous numbers that she posted in the tournament. For instance, she set the new record for points in a single tournament – man or woman – with 191 points. That’s better than Glen Rice of Michigan, who racked up 184 points for the 1989 Champion Michigan and 177 points by Texas Tech’s Sheryl Swoopes en route to their only national title.
While she was a scoring machine, she was far from one-dimensional. Don’t believe it? Let’s look at another important number: 60. She averaged 10 assists per game over the tournament, racking up 60 in total. That mark would be a tournament record and fell just shy of Mark Wade’s 61 for another record across both tournaments.
Ready for another incredible feat? She also became the first player in the history of either tournament to record a 40-point triple-double. She put up 41 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds in Iowa’s Elite Eight victory over Louisville.
Though the Hawkeyes fell short in their first trip to the National Championship, losing to LSU, Clark has a lot to hold her head high about. It was a once-in-a-lifetime tournament for the Iowa Junior.
All the Accolades
The NCAA Tournament was not some aberration, a once-in-a-lifetime performance of a player hell bent on success. No, it was just the latest in a long line of great performances that Clark put together throughout the course of the season.
Name an accolade and Clark captured it this past season. She earned widespread recognition as the clearcut best player in the nation. In addition to winning the AP Player of the Year honors, she won the John R. Wooden Award, Wade Trophy, Naismith College Player of the Year, and USBWA National Player of the Year.
In every conceivable way, Clark was the best player in women’s college basketball. With the Wooden and Naismith awards, she was deemed to be the best college basketball player in the land for any gender. It is the kind of season that players dream of.
Caitlin Clark catching some playoff hoops 🏀 pic.twitter.com/ZMQCxGVmrs
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 24, 2023
The WNBA Draft
After putting up ridiculous numbers and winning every award possible, the next step has to be the WNBA Draft, right? About that.
Unbelievable as it may seem, Clark will not be in the 2023 WNBA Draft. It’s not she doesn’t want to be and it isn’t as though she would not be the consensus number-one pick in the draft. It’s that she cannot be in the draft because she doesn’t qualify.
That’s right, the best player in the country can’t enter the draft because of current rules. The current rule states that players have to be 22 years old in order to enter. So, it will be at least another year before Clark can ply her talents at the professional level.
For the rest of the nation, it is time to be very afraid. Clark will return for her senior season as she will not be 22 until January of 2024 – right in the middle of her senior season. After making it to the national championship and falling short, she will no doubt have the hunger to climb that one last mountain.
We saw what a determined Clark could do in 2022-23. Knowing that it will be her last hurrah, there is no telling what Clark can put together in 2023-24. The Big Ten and the rest of the nation will be put on warning and the Hawkeyes will no doubt be near the top of many national lists.
As for Clark, the sky is the limit. She will only add to her legacy as a senior and could go down as a living legend when she is done at Iowa.
Iowa has produced 3 Naismith Winners in the past 5 seasons (MBB & WBB)
• Caitlin Clark
• Luka Garza
• Megan Gustafson
Iowa: 3 Winners
Duke: 1 Winner
South Carolina: 1 Winner
Dayton: 1 Winner
Purdue: 1 Winner
UConn: 1 Winner
Oregon: 1 Winner
Kentucky: 1 Winner pic.twitter.com/hMCYKVpalG
— College Basketball Report (@CBKReport) April 24, 2023