Caitlin Clark waves prior to the 2024 WNBA Draft at...

Caitlin Clark waves prior to the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday. Credit: Getty Images/Sarah Stier

The face of women’s college basketball found a bright, new spotlight Monday night, taking the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, hugging WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert, then striking a happy pose together while holding an Indiana Fever jersey.

The Fever won the lottery and made the obvious choice official at the WNBA Draft, selecting an acclaimed generational talent as the top overall pick.

Caitlin Clark conquered her last challenge rather well at Iowa, becoming the all-time leading scorer in the NCAA Division I game, among women and men. The 6-foot point guard generated tremendous interest in the process, from ticket sales to TV ratings.

Now she will be generating increased interest for the WNBA.

“This is the most competitive league in the entire world, less than 144 spots,” Clark said. “So you better bring it every single night. I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I think that’s exactly how I lived my college career, too.”

Clark was the consensus Player of the Year the last two seasons as she powered Iowa to the national championship game, and she was the Big Ten Player of the Year the last three.

Kelsey Plum had held the career D-I scoring record for women with 3,527 points and Pete Maravich had owned it for men with 3,667. Clark sped on by both, scoring nearly 4,000 points, 3,951 to be exact. She also passed Lynette Woodard’s 3,649 — the top total in the AIAW era — for the major college women’s record.

Young fans from New York and New Jersey headed to Brooklyn for the 2024 WNBA Draft to witness college superstar and No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark, who will play for the Indiana Fever. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.  Credit: Howard Simmons; Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke; Getty Images/ Sarah Stier

Clark averaged 31.6 points, 8.9 assists and 7.4 rebounds as a senior and 28.4 points, 8.2 assists and 7.1 rebounds for her four-year career. She scored at least 40 on 13 occasions and posted 17 triple-doubles.

Her appeal was so great that viewership for Iowa’s loss to South Carolina in the women’s final earlier this month outdistanced the UConn-Purdue men’s final by about 4 million and was up by more than 90% over the previous year. The telecast averaged about 18.9 million viewers and peaked at about 24.1 million.

“I’m thrilled that we have household names coming in,” Engelbert said. “We need to market around that.”

So how will Clark do in the WNBA? Well, her touch from the next area code beyond the three-point arc should travel.

Rebecca Lobo, the ESPN analyst and former Liberty player, also called Clark’s court vision “next level.” Clark thinks her passing ability will translate.

“I think that, at times, is what gets overlooked in my game,” Clark said. “I think the scoring and the long shots is what everybody falls in love with.”

But there also could be challenges.

“Challenge-wise, I think the physicality of going against grown women is going to be tough,” said Andraya Carter, another ESPN analyst and a former player at Tennessee. “And then defending. I think any star that comes into the game, teams want to challenge them defensively.”

Clark is open to input from her new teammates. “I’m 22 years old and I don’t have all the answers in the world,” she said. “This is something new to me and this is a new challenge. And that’s something I’m excited for.”

Clark had affiliations with several name companies while playing at Iowa, but she said, “My focus is solely on basketball, being the best I can. I don’t have to do school anymore. That’s pretty exciting. I do have to get my degree. I graduate on May 14. But other than that, my 110% focus is on basketball.”

The Liberty owned the 11th overall pick and used it on Marquesha Davis. The 6-foot Ole Miss guard was an All-SEC first-teamer this past season after averaging 14 points. “Knowing I can come in and be a two-way player and make an impact that way is something I look forward to,” Davis said.

General manager Jonathan Kolb praised her offensive ability and said she could become “an elite perimeter defender” — a need for the Liberty.

They also took 6-2 Arizona forward Esmery Martinez and 6-5 Mississippi center Jessika Carter in the second round. In the third, they picked 6-2 forward Kaitlyn Davis, who played for Columbia and then USC.

Los Angeles took 6-4 Stanford forward Cameron Brink at No. 2 overall and 6-2 Tennessee forward Rickea Jackson at No. 4. In between, Chicago selected 6-7 South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso.

Jacy Sheldon, the 5-10 Ohio State guard, went fifth to Dallas and 6-3 UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards was selected sixth by Washington. Chicago chose 6-3 LSU forward Angel Reese with the seventh pick.

Expansion plan

The WNBA will add a 13th team in 2025, expanding to the Bay Area. More expansion is coming. “By ’28,” Engelbert said, “I feel pretty confident we’ll be at 16 teams.”


1. Indiana Fever: Caitlin Clark, G, Iowa

2: Los Angeles Sparks: Cameron Brink, F, Stanford

3. Chicago Sky: Kamilla Cardozo, C, South Carolina

4. Los Angeles Sparks: Rickea Jackson, F, Tennessee

5. Dallas Wings: Jacy Sheldon, G, Ohio State

6. Washington Mystics: Aaliyah Edwards, F, UConn

7. Chicago Sky: Angel Reese, F, LSU

8. Minnesota Lynx: Alissa Pili, F, Utah

9. Dallas Wings: Carla Leite, G, France

10. Connecticut Sun: Leila Lecan, G, France

11. Liberty: Marquesha Davis, G, Ole Miss

12. Atlanta Dream: Nyadiew Puoch, F, Australia

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