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Indiana Fever select Iowa’s Caitlin Clark No. 1 in 2024 WNBA draft



Indiana Fever select Iowa's Caitlin Clark No. 1 in 2024 WNBA draft

NEW YORK — Caitlin Clark is formally a professional.

Clark, the record-breaking face of ladies’s faculty basketball, was chosen No. 1 general by the Indiana Fever within the 2024 WNBA draft Monday night time on the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The draft was held with followers for the primary time because the 2014-2016 iterations of the occasion. Tickets for 1,000 spectators bought out inside quarter-hour of occurring sale a couple of months in the past.

Clark’s coronation was lengthy anticipated after she introduced in late February she was headed to the league as an alternative of utilizing her further 12 months of collegiate eligibility.

However that did not make the second any much less particular for Clark, her family members, her Iowa household and the ecstatic followers who packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse again in Indianapolis to see her maintain up a Fever jersey on the jumbotron.

“Whenever you’re simply sitting at a desk ready in your title to be referred to as, that basically permits the feelings to feed you,” Clark stated. “You are with your loved ones. Clearly, enjoying a basketball recreation, I am not on the market with my household. So sharing that second with them and having fun with it, and folks that have actually had my again and believed in me greater than anybody, is tremendous particular.”

The Los Angeles Sparks, rebuilding following the departure of Nneka Ogwumike in free company, chosen two gamers within the lottery: Stanford’s Cameron Brink at No. 2 and Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson at No. 4. Brink joins Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike because the third Stanford participant chosen within the high two of the WNBA draft and is this system’s fifteenth first-rounder.

“I really like that I get to remain on the West Coast, and I really like that they took an opportunity on me,” Brink stated. “I really feel like I am simply going to point out that I can work actually exhausting and assist them quite a bit. But additionally, I will be near household, which is basically necessary for me.”

Jackson, who began her profession at Mississippi State, is Tennessee’s nineteenth first-round choose, the second most in WNBA draft historical past.

The Chicago Sky made a splash in deciding on South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso (No. 3) and LSU’s Angel Reese (No. 7), the 2024 and 2023 Remaining 4 Most Excellent Gamers, respectively. Cardoso helped the Gamecocks win their third nationwide championship to finish an undefeated season, then attended the group’s championship parade Sunday earlier than touring to New York.

“She’s a terrific participant, and I am a terrific participant,” Cardoso stated of Reese, somebody she performed in opposition to in highschool and in SEC play. “No person’s going to get no rebounds on us,” she added with fun.

In a brand new period with WNBA legend Teresa Weatherspoon on the helm, the Sky swapped picks with Minnesota on Sunday to draft seventh.

Reese’ 61 double-doubles over the previous two seasons have been essentially the most in Division I and second most in LSU historical past, behind solely Sylvia Fowles. Reese — who rose to superstardom in main the Tigers to their first nationwide championship in 2023 — is LSU’s highest choose since Fowles (No. 2 general in 2008).

“Understanding the conversations have been so good and [Weatherspoon] felt like a mom to me,” Reese stated. “Having the ability to be a Black girl and as a head coach, and every part she’s performed on the NBA stage, I simply knew every part they have been bringing to the desk. Jeff [Pagliocca], the GM, was wonderful, too, and participant growth is one thing that I used to be on the lookout for they usually regarded for in me. I am tremendous excited for this transfer, and I am simply wanting ahead to attending to Chicago.”

With the ladies’s faculty recreation exploding in reputation as gamers similar to Clark and Reese grew to become family names, the arrival of the 2024 draft class is extensively regarded to be a possible watershed second for the WNBA.

“It is a generational class,” Jackson stated. “I really feel like this class is simply so completely different. I do know this class is completely different. … Girls’s basketball is on an uproar. Everyone is tuning in. … I am grateful to be part of this draft class. I really feel like we’re simply trending in the best course.”

Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon went fifth to the Dallas Wings, and the Washington Mystics took UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards at No. 6. Edwards put up profession highs in each scoring (17.6 factors per recreation) and rebounding (9.2) in 2023-24.

Minnesota drafted Alissa Pili of Utah eighth. Pili averaged 21.1 factors over the previous two seasons, which ranked fourth in Division I behind solely Clark (29.7), Ta’Niya Latson (21.3) and McKenna Hofschild (21.3).

The New York Liberty, who made the WNBA Finals final 12 months, chosen Marquesha Davis with the eleventh choose. Davis turns into simply the fourth Ole Miss participant to be chosen within the first spherical.

Three worldwide gamers have been additionally chosen within the first spherical: Carla Leite of France (No. 9 to Dallas), Leïla Lacan of France (No. 10 to the Connecticut Solar) and Nyadiew Puoch of Australia (No. 12 to the Atlanta Dream). It marks the fourth time three or extra worldwide gamers have been chosen within the first spherical of the WNBA draft (2021, 2001, 2000).

Clark, a 6-foot guard and West Des Moines, Iowa, native, enters the league on high of the world. A two-time nationwide participant of the 12 months, she ended her collegiate profession with 3,951 factors, essentially the most in males’s and ladies’s Division I historical past, whereas propelling the Iowa Hawkeyes to back-to-back nationwide title recreation appearances, their first in program historical past.

Her brand 3-pointers, highlight-reel assists and offensive firepower (she averaged 31.6 factors as a senior, and 28.4 factors for her profession) have drawn sellout crowds in Iowa Metropolis and on the highway, whereas shattering tv scores throughout a large number of networks and streaming platforms alongside the best way.

She has her personal cereal field and State Farm commercials, and simply this previous weekend she appeared as herself on “Saturday Night time Stay.” Now, her largest problem, and largest alternative, awaits.

The Fever have not appeared within the playoffs since 2016, the legendary Tamika Catchings’ remaining season. However with Clark becoming a member of forces with final 12 months’s No. 1 general choose, Aliyah Boston, the pairing appears destined to vary the trajectory of the franchise — and probably the league — for the years to come back.

Winners of the 2012 WNBA title, Indiana has languished since Catchings’ retirement, sporting the worst successful share within the league because the begin of the 2017 season regardless of deciding on lottery picks in every of the previous seven drafts. 4 of these seven picks are now not with the group.

Indicators of progress emerged this previous season with Boston, the franchise’s first No. 1 choose, because the Fever received 13 video games, tied for essentially the most since Catchings’ retirement. With Clark now within the combine, snapping the longest energetic playoff drought appears properly inside attain.

“That is undoubtedly our purpose, is to get again to championship habits,” Clark stated, joking that regardless that Indiana Hoosiers followers did not love her when she was at Iowa, she hopes to show them into Fever followers now. “I am very fortunate to be going there to a corporation that basically loves ladies’s basketball. You see it immediately, I feel that they had 17,000 tickets claimed to only watch the draft. I feel that reveals the joy in Indianapolis. It is a terrific basketball metropolis.

“For myself, I am unable to think about a extra good match, a greater place for me to begin my skilled profession, a corporation that basically simply believes in ladies’s basketball and desires to do every part the best approach. So I could not be extra excited to get there.”

Fever normal supervisor Lin Dunn shared Clark’s sentiment.

“It is an ideal match for us,” Dunn stated. “She’s from the Large Ten, the Midwest — is there anywhere higher for her than Indianapolis, Indiana? I am unable to consider it.”

Dunn was requested in regards to the franchise having back-to-back No. 1 picks, as was the case when she was normal supervisor of the Seattle Storm with Lauren Jackson (2001) and Sue Chicken in (2002).

“Properly, it would not occur fairly often. And so when it does occur — and you’ll look again traditionally — it normally implies that it results in championships,” Dunn stated. “I feel that is the start of us getting again on monitor to win one other championship right here. Once we have been in a position to put Chicken and Jackson collectively — a terrific level guard and a terrific publish participant — we have been in a position to take off in Seattle, and I feel that might occur right here if you put Clark with Boston.”

Clark, the one Division I ladies’s participant with greater than 3,000 factors and 1,000 assists, could have two equally younger however elite publish targets in Boston, the reigning WNBA Rookie of the 12 months, and NaLyssa Smith, a 2022 lottery choose. After Clark developed sturdy chemistry with Iowa publish gamers Monika Czinano and Hannah Stuelke, the connections she, Boston and Smith can type in Indianapolis are tantalizing prospects for Fever followers.

“Going to a corporation that has, in my eyes, the most effective publish gamers in the whole world. My level guard eyes simply gentle up at that,” Clark stated of Boston. “My largest job is I am simply feeding Aliyah the ball each single day. That is what I’ll do. I’ll be in there and be like, go make a layup. She’s going to make my life simple.”

Clark may also share the backcourt with two veteran guards in Kelsey Mitchell, No. 4 on the NCAA Division I all-time scoring checklist and a high 3-point shooter within the league final season, in addition to returning level guard Erica Wheeler.

“I am 22 years previous, and I haven’t got all of the solutions on the earth,” Clark stated. “That is one thing new to me. It is a new problem. That is one thing I am excited for. However having these sort of individuals round me to lean on and ask questions, or when issues get exhausting, to be there for me.”

Of the opposite prospects invited to the draft Monday: UConn’s Nika Muhl was taken with the second choose of the second spherical by the Storm; Ohio State’s Celeste Taylor is headed to Indiana after being chosen No. 15 general; Syracuse’s Dyaisha Truthful (No. 16) — who completed her collegiate profession third on the all-time Division I ladies’s profession factors checklist behind solely Clark and Kelsey Plum — and Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley (No. 24) have been chosen by the Las Vegas Aces; and UCLA’s Charisma Osborne was picked with the primary choose of the third spherical by the Phoenix Mercury.

Iowa’s Kate Martin, within the crowd to assist teammate Clark, was additionally chosen No. 18 general by the Aces.

ESPN’s Michael Voepel and ESPN Stats & Info contributed to this report.

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