Comparing superstars: How Iowa's Caitlin Clark matches up against South Carolina's Aliyah Boston

Will Kennedy
Des Moines Register

On Friday night, arguably the two best women's college basketball players will take the floor in the Final Four with only one of them able to punch a ticket to the national title game.

Iowa's Caitlin Clark and South Carolina's Aliyah Boston have separated themselves from all the other players in the nation. Between them, they've won basically every award and honor a college player can win.

They play different positions, with Boston locking down the post for the Gamecocks while Clark is lethal from the perimeter, so they won't be matched up on each other much at all Friday. Still, these two women are the engines that drive their teams.

Boston is a reigning national champion and a part of a South Carolina team that's won 42 games in a row, dating to last season. If they win two more games, the Gamecocks will be just the fourth program in history to win back-to-back titles. Boston won the Naismith Player of the Year Award and the John R. Wooden Award last season to highlight her full trophy case.

More:Leistikow: Final Four adds to legacy for Iowa's Caitlin Clark, 'one of the greats of all-time'

Clark hasn't won the national title, Wooden or Naismith awards, at least not as of Tuesday afternoon, but she's got just about everything else. She's this season's Big Ten Player of the Year and just made history by becoming the first player in NCAA Tournament- men's or women's – history to record a 40-point triple-double. She scored 41 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 12 assists in Iowa's Elite Eight win over Louisville.

More:How to watch, stream and listen to Iowa women's basketball in the NCAA Final Four

Here's a brief look at each of their accomplishments this season and what analysts and others in the basketball world have to say about what each of them brings to their team.

Iowa's Caitlin Clark celebrates after defeating the Louisville Cardinals 97-83 in the Elite Eight.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

  • Ranks top-five nationally in 12 statistical categories while being the only player in the country to average better than 20 points (27.2), five assists (8.1) and five rebounds per game (7.4)
  • Has garnered a Big Ten weekly award six times this season
  • In 18 games this season, she has at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists
  • Named the Big Ten Player of the Year
  • Selected as a First-Team AP All-American

"The best basketball of the weekend, the best player in America, the best shooter in America, Caitlin Clark at Iowa," said Dan Patrick on his radio show Monday. "There's no hyperbole here. Watch her play, she plays at a high level, highly skilled. She's the best passer in America and the best shooter in America. Promise."

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"She's unique, we haven't seen anyone like her. Not just with her skillset and her ability to make things look easy," said Big Ten Network analyst Stephanie White. "The game has certainly evolved and she is on the forefront of that...What Caitlin Clark is doing in the age of social media, fan engagement, NIL it's just really incredible and I think it's lifting women's basketball, lifting the sport to an entirely new level."

"Caitlin has stepped up on the biggest stage in her career, which has been the Tournament, obviously making history in the Elite Eight," said ESPN analyst Monica McNutt. "I think it's not going to be her scoring as much that's going to buoy Iowa (against South Carolina), but her ability to find her teammates, play-make and (get those) assist numbers she can rack up. "

South Carolina's Aliyah Boston (4) blocks a shot by Maryland's Bri McDaniel. Sports

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

  • Earned her second consecutive SEC Player of the Year 
  • Named SEC Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth consecutive season 
  • Boston is the only player in the country ranked in the top five of both offensive and defensive player rating, leading the SEC in both categories
  • Her 22 double-doubles rank sixth in the NCAA
  • Selected as a First-Team AP All-American
  • Averages 13.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 56.5 FG%

More:Women's March Madness Final Four 2023: Schedule, times, streaming, TV info for Friday's games

"Aliyah Boston is a steadying force. Obviously, the matchup you think of is her matchup with Monika Czinano...But overall South Carolina gets 30 points out of their bench, Iowa gets just 12," McNutt said. "I think this thing could come down to the benches."

"The knock on Boston this season has been the decline in her box-score stats, but that’s mostly a function of South Carolina’s deep rotation and Kamilla Cardoso’s emergence as a dominant backup big. Boston has actually become a more efficient scorer, averaging more points per possession this year than her junior season, (her FG percentage has jumped from .542% to .568%)" -Sabreena Merchant, The Athletic

More:What to know about South Carolina, Iowa's Final Four opponent in the NCAA Tournament

"Boston is routinely double, even triple-teamed when she attempts to operate in the post. In addition, because the Gamecocks games are non-competitive - they had more 50-point wins (five) than single-digit wins (four) - Boston has only played 25.9 minutes per game.” -Jack Maloney, CBS Sports