Incoming freshman Caitlin Clark joined the Iowa women’s basketball team June 15 for the program’s first voluntary workout since its 2019-20 season ended prematurely.
Clark is facing high expectations despite only being a freshman, but she also has high expectations for herself.
Clark was a five-star commit out of Dowling Catholic high school in Des Moines. In her prep career, she amassed a number of honors, including two-time Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year. In the summer of 2019, she played on the U19 World Cup women’s basketball team, who went 7-0 and won a gold medal.
Clark was recruited by a several schools, including Oregon, Duke, and Texas. She narrowed it down to Iowa, Iowa State, and Notre Dame before officially committing to Iowa on November 12 last year.
After scouting Clark throughout her middle and high school career, the women’s basketball program was ecstatic to land such a coveted recruit.
“Winning a big game is fun, but getting a big recruit is even better,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “You know that that’s going to impact your program for four years, not just one game.”
The 2020-2021 Iowa women’s basketball recruiting class was ranked 15th nationally with Sharon Goodman, Lauren Jensen, and Shateah Wetering joining Clark as the freshmen on the team.
Proximity to her hometown in West Des Moines helped Clark thin out her choices. She said her relationship with Iowa coaches and the opportunities she saw with the Hawkeyes finalized her choice.
“I also wanted to be able to make an impact right away, which I think I have a good chance of doing at Iowa,” Clark said.
With the loss of three seniors — all of which were starters — Clark will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact on the court.
“I think that Caitlin, as a freshman, will have a big role just like Kathleen [Doyle] and Mackenzie [Meyer] did their freshmen years,” Bluder said. “We’re expecting big things out of her.”
Despite the sky-high expectations of her performance coming into Iowa, Clark isn’t intimidated — she’s focused on improving the team and improving herself as a player. This season, Clark is focused on getting the hang of things at Iowa. She especially wants to work on her defense and getting used to the skill level of college basketball.
For the Hawkeyes, Clark will be wearing No. 22, the same number as 2019-2020 Big Ten Player of the Year Kathleen Doyle. But the connection to Doyle isn’t why Clark decided on 22.
“I’ve always worn 22 my whole life,” Clark said. “I wasn’t able to wear it in high school, so I decided to go back to it. I know Kathleen wore it before me, so it has a significance, but I didn’t pick it because of her — it’s just my favorite number.”
Although she’s just starting her college career with the Hawkeyes, Clark has ambitions to go into the WNBA.
“It has been my dream ever since I was little,” Clark said. “I know it’s four years away, but it’s definitely something I’m working on down the line.”