Analysis: Caitlin Clark has a chance to be the face of Iowa women's basketball
If you see Lisa Bluder or any of the Iowa women's basketball coaches skipping around the Iowa City area this week, here's why: Caitlin Clark, Dowling Cathlolic's five-star point guard ranked the No. 4 2020 prospect by ESPN, committed to the Hawkeyes on Tuesday.
She held other offers from powerhouse programs such as Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State and Texas, and she picked Iowa over the Fighting Irish and Iowa State.
In Clark, the Hawkeyes are getting an instant-impact, game-changing lead guard who has a chance to be the face of Bluder's program for her four years in Iowa City before likely moving on to the WNBA.
"They’re getting, in my opinion, the best player in the United States. And I’ve seen them all — a lot," said Dickson Jensen, Clark's AAU coach with powerhouse program All Iowa Attack. "Not only are they getting that, they’re getting a great leader. Caitlin wanted to play at a place where she could take them further than they’ve ever been before in the NCAA Tournament."
The timing is just about perfect for Iowa.
Megan Gustafson, who became a Hawkeye legend who will have her jersey number retired one day, is gone after leading Iowa to the Elite Eight last year.
This year, senior point guard Kathleen Doyle takes the reins.
Then, in 2020, Clark will likely be given the keys to the team as starting point guard. She'll fill the hole left by Doyle, and she'll have an opportunity to leave her mark on the program right away as a freshman. Everything just fits, timing-wise.
She is also the kind of play top prospects may want to come play with — the type of player you can build a special, potentially championship-level team around. Jensen said shooters will especially have a field day playing with Clark, as she can get to the rim at will and will create plenty of open shots for her teammates that way.
Clark is a physical, 5-foot-11 scoring point guard who can score from all three levels and has the moves to get her shot up from anywhere at any time — and she's not lacking for confidence out there. She led the state with 32.5 points per game last year, and that's while routinely facing double- and triple-teams.
She was second in Iowa as a sophomore with 27.1 points per game. As a freshman on varsity, she scored 15.3 points per game.
But, between her size and physicality, Clark can also rebound well (seven rebounds per game as a junior) and defend well (2.2 steals per game) for her position. She can make plays for her teammates, too, as she logged 3.5 assists per game as a junior.
Bottom line: When the ball is in Clark's hands, it's must-watch basketball.
"She can put a team on her back," Jensen said. "There’s no question she’s an immediate-impact (player). And she’ll be ready for it. She’ll be ready to be the go-to girl 12 months from now."
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
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