May 24th, 2024

Caitlin Clark taken No. 1 in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever, as expected

By Doug Feinberg, The Associated Press on April 15, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – Caitlin Clark admitted she was a bit nervous before being chosen with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever, even though it was no surprise.

“I dreamed of this moment since I was in second grade, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, but more than anything, just trying to soak it in,” Clark said.

The former Iowa star became a household name among basketball fans during her record-breaking college career, and she will now try and help revive the Indiana franchise along with last season’s No. 1 pick, Aliyah Boston, who previously played with Clark on a USA Basketball Under-19 team.

“Obviously going to an organization that has, in my eyes, one of the best post players in the entire world,” Clark said. “My point guard eyes just light up at that. And obviously, Aliyah has been one of my teammates before. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

The Fever taking Clark had been a foregone conclusion since she announced on Feb. 29 she would turn pro. Nearly 17,000 tickets were claimed to watch the draft at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home to the Fever and the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

Clark has helped bring millions of fans to the women’s game with her signature shots from the midcourt logo and passing ability. The NCAA’s all-time scoring leader was a big reason why a record 18.9 million viewers tuned in to the national championship game, which Iowa lost to unbeaten South Carolina. The Hawkeyes were also the national runners-up to LSU a year earlier.

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Clark. After the title game, she flew to Los Angeles to receive the John R. Wooden Award and then came to New York for an appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I think obviously the course of the last few weeks has been pretty insane in my life, the last two months playing basketball as long as I possibly could in my college career,” Clark said. “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, who wore a white Prada jacket and skirt, hugged her parents and brothers and Iowa coach Lisa Bluder after she was drafted.

The draft was held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in front of 1,000 fans, who bought all the tickets within 15 minutes of them going on sale a few months ago.

Los Angeles chose Stanford’s Cameron Brink at No. 2. She’ll get to stay in California and gives the Sparks a two-way player.

“When they called my name, a huge wave of emotions hit me,” Brink said. “I saw my mom tearing up and my dad and it hit home.”

A prolific scorer, Brink was also the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. The Sparks needed to replace franchise player Nneka Ogwumike, who left for Seattle in free agency. Brink’s godmother, Sonya Curry, is the mother of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry.

“I FaceTimed Steph five minutes before the show started and he said have fun with it,” Brink said. “He can share so much great advice since he’s been through this. Make stuff like this fun as it can be stressed.”

Chicago had the third pick and chose South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso before the Sparks were on the clock again and and selected Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson.

Cardoso had a busy week, helping the Gamecocks win the national championship to complete an undefeated season. She took part in the team’s championship parade on Sunday before traveling to New York.

Dallas took Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon with the fifth pick. Washington drafted Aaliyah Edwards of UConn sixth before Chicago took LSU’s Angel Reese at No. 7, pairing her with Cardoso.

“She’s a great player and I’m a great player. Nobody’s going to get no rebounds on us,” the 6-foot-7 Cardoso said, laughing.

Minnesota, which had swapped picks with Chicago, drafted Alissa Pili of Utah eighth.

A pair of French guards, Carla Leite and Leila Lacan, went next to Dallas and Connecticut, respectively.

New York drafted Ole Miss’ Marquesha Davis at No. 11 and Atlanta closed out the first round by taking Australian Nyadiew Puoch.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

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