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

NEW YORK — Caitlin Clark is officially a pro.

Clark, the record-breaking face of women’s college basketball, was selected No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever in the 2024 WNBA Draft Monday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“I was a little anxious before the pick,” Clark said with a laugh during an interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was in third grade, and it took a lot of work, a lot of ups and downs, but more than anything, I just tried to soak it in.”

Los Angeles selected Stanford’s Cameron Brink second overall. She will stay in California and give the Sparks a two-way player. The prolific scorer was also named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. The Sparks were expected to replace franchise player Nneka Ogwumike, who left for Seattle in free agency.

Brink is the third Stanford player selected in the top two in the WNBA draft, joining Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike. The only college with more is UConn.

Chicago had the third pick, which Sky used to select South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso, the 2024 Final Four MVP. Cardoso’s 59.4% field goal percentage in 2023-24 led the SEC and ranked 15th overall in Division I. South Carolina now has 11 players selected in the first round over the past 10 seasons, the second-most of any program in draft history after UConn. . .

The Sparks were back at No. 4 and selected Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson, who was one of five SEC players to average at least 20 points and 5 rebounds in multiple seasons over the 25 last years. Jackson is one of two Tennessee players with 30 points and 10 rebounds in an NCAA tournament game, the other being Candace Parker, who also began her career with the Sparks.

Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon went fifth to the Dallas Wings, and the Washington Mystics took UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards at No. 6. Edwards set career highs in scoring (17.6 PPG) and rebounding (9.2 PPG) in 2023-24.

The Sky then moved up to seventh to select LSU star Angel Reese, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player in LSU’s 2023 national championship run. Reese has 61 double-doubles over the past two seasons, the most in Division I and the second most in LSU. story, behind Sylvia Fowles.

“I’m excited to play with Kamilla — I’ve been playing against her since high school,” said Reese, who is the highest pick LSU has had since Fowles in 2008 (second overall).

Utah’s Alissa Pili was drafted 8th overall by the Minnesota Lynx. Pili has averaged 21.1 points over the past two seasons, which places him fourth in Division I behind only Clark (29.7), Ta’Niya Latson (21.3) and McKenna Hofschild (21 ,3).

The Wings selected Frenchwoman Carla Leite with the ninth pick. Leïla Lacan, also French, is heading to the Connecticut Sun at number 10.

Clark, a 6-foot-0 guard and native of West Des Moines, Iowa, enters the league on top of the world. A two-time national player of the year, Clark finished her college career with 3,951 points, the most points in men’s and women’s Division I history, while propelling the Iowa Hawkeyes to appearances consecutive games in the national title game, their first in program history. .

Her trademark 3-pointers, assists and offensive firepower (she averaged 31.6 points per game as a senior and 28.4 points for her career) drew sellout crowds to Iowa City and on the road, while smashing television audiences in droves. television networks and streaming platforms along the way.

She has her own cereal box, State Farm commercials and last weekend she appeared as herself on “Saturday Night Live.” Today, his greatest challenge and his greatest opportunity await him.

“I deserved it, that’s why I’m so proud of it,” Clark told Rowe.

The Fever haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, the final season of the legendary Tamika Catchings. But with Clark joining forces with last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Aliyah Boston, the generational power couple appears destined to change the trajectory of the franchise — and perhaps the league — for years to come .

Winner of the 2012 WNBA title, Indiana has languished since Catchings’ retirement, posting the league’s worst winning percentage since the start of the 2017 season despite drafting lottery picks in each of the last seven drafts. Four of those seven picks are no longer with the team.

Signs of progress emerged last season with Boston, the franchise’s first-ever No. 1 pick, as they won 13 games, tied for the most since Catchings retired. With Clark now in the mix, it seems within the franchise’s reach to end what is currently the league’s longest active streak without making the playoffs.

Clark, the only Division I women’s player with more than 3,000 points and 1,000 assists, will have two equally young but elite post targets in Boston, the reigning Rookie of the Year, and NaLyssa Smith, a draft pick. 2022 lottery. After Clark developed strong chemistry with Iowa posts Monika Czinano and Hannah Stuelke, the connections she, Boston and Smith can form in Indianapolis are tantalizing prospects for Fever fans.

“The organization has one of the best post players in the world. My point guard eyes light up with that,” Clark said.

Clark will also share the backcourt with two veteran guards in Kelsey Mitchell, No. 4 on the NCAA Division I all-time scoring list and one of the league’s best 3-point shooters last season, as well as returning point guard Erica Wheeler.

ESPN Stats & Information and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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