Kevin Durant praises Caitlin Clark's game: 'Hopefully more people start watching Iowa basketball'

Adam Hensley
Hawk Central

Ever since he saw Caitlin Clark at an AAU tournament a few years ago, Kevin Durant has been a fan of her game.

The Brooklyn Nets star, who has sung Clark's praises in the past, talked about Clark and her recent success on his podcast, "The ETCs w/KD."

Co-host Eddie Gonzalez brought up Clark early in the Feb. 9 episode, talking about Clark's 46-point performance in a loss to Michigan, which featured some other-worldly highlights from the Hawkeye sophomore.

Durant immediately chimed in.

"She's displaying some skill right now, and she's moving fast," he said. "It looks like everyone on that court is way slower than her when she's getting to her stuff."

Durant recalled the first time he saw Clark, which was at a girls AAU basketball tournament in Chicago the summer before her senior year at Dowling Catholic High School.

"I happened to see the 17-and-under girls, and she was in the championship," Durant said. "Her team from Iowa ... they played together so smooth, but she was always leading. She always had the ball in her hand. Everyone was playing off her. She just commanded.

"I'm like, 'Who the hell is this? She is nice.' (Someone) said, 'Oh, she's the best player in the country.' I was like, 'Oh, damn. I see it now.' When you walk in and you don't know who anyone is, and they're like, 'Yo, that's the best player in the country right there,' that … hits you out of nowhere, like 'Let me focus in on her.'"

Ever since that moment, Durant has kept an eye on Clark's game. Last season, Durant commented "She belongs in the league right now" on an Instagram post about Clark.

Clark and Durant share some prestigious accolades on the court, too. When Clark scored 46 points and dished 10 assists in 40 minutes against Michigan, she joined Durant as the only NBA, WNBA, and Division I men's or women's players in the last 15 years to have 45 or more points, 10 or more assists and play the entire game.

More:Leistikow: How lifelong Iowan Caitlin Clark grew into a must-watch basketball star

Kevin Durant: 'Hopefully more people start watching Iowa basketball'

On Wednesday's podcast episode, Durant talked about why he thinks Clark chose Iowa, even though she "could have probably went anywhere in the country."

"That Iowa community is a small-knit community," he said. "It seems like everyone from Iowa either goes to Iowa State or Iowa. I'm sure that played a huge factor. But she has the ball in her hands the whole game. If she goes to a team with three or four other McDonald's All-Americans, like a UConn, she could still showcase her skill, but she wouldn't be getting 40, 16 and 10 like she's getting right now."

More:Leistikow: Super sophomores Caitlin Clark, Keegan Murray bring positive buzz for Iowa basketball

Durant and Gonzalez wrapped up their conversation on Clark by talking about women's basketball as a whole. Both are big supporters of the WNBA, and the two discussed what the future of the game could hold. But Durant pointed out that it's hard not to notice women's basketball when you see highlights of a player with Clark's skillset.

"When you see somebody like her, it don't matter what they look like," he said. "When they're pulling off shots and moves like that, it's going to draw you in. Hopefully more people start watching Iowa basketball because they're definitely going to be a tournament team."

Read more about Caitlin Clark and the Iowa women's basketball team

Adam Hensley is a digital producer with the USA Today Network. You can follow him on Twitter @A_Hens83 or reach him at ahensley@gannett.com.