Hale Snyder '24
Three months ago, many of us didn’t know who Caitlin Clark was. We had no idea that, as the Women’s March Madness Tournament approached, we were about to witness greatness. But that is exactly what we saw. Greatness. While Iowa was unable to defeat Angel Reese and LSU in the championship game, Caitlin Clark still put on one of the most impressive stretches in college basketball history. In the last four games of the tournament, in the most high-pressure environment of her life, she put up four straight 30-point games, most notably a 41-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound game against Louisville.
What’s even crazier than this stretch is that these kinds of stat lines are nothing new for Caitlin Clark. In her three years at Iowa, she has put up unprecedented numbers. Since entering the NBA, Lebron James has career averages of 27-7-7. Since entering college, Clark has put up 27-8-7, while shooting better from both the three-point line and the free-throw line. These statistics alone are absurd, but by looking deeper, we can see that they are even more impressive.
NBA games are both longer than NCAAW games and have a faster pace of play, meaning that Clark is putting up the same stats as Lebron, with significantly fewer offensive possessions per game. If both players were given 100 possessions, Clark would average 41-12-11, while Lebron would average 37-10-10.
Not only does Clark put up better numbers than the greatest basketball player to touch this Earth, but her numbers are essentially unparalleled in NCAAW. The all-time career scorer in women’s college basketball is Kelsey Plum, but she did it in four years at UConn, averaging 26 points and 4 assists per game in an easier conference than Clark, not even coming close to Clark’s dominant statistics. Other players that are considered to be some of the greatest women’s college basketball players ever include Maya Moore, Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi, and Sue Bird, many of who also went on to become some of the best players ever at the professional level. None of these players have career averages that come close to Clark’s averages of 27 points and 8 assists, and half of them are worse at rebounding as well.
Most of the time, when a draft prospect emerges as the consensus #1 overall pick in their draft, it is because of some God-given natural talent that gives them a freakishly high ceiling. For instance, NBA teams are all-in on Victor Wembanyama, a 7-3 Frenchman who can score at all three levels of the court. However, with Wembanyama, there are questions. How will his playstyle hold up in the NBA? Is he physical enough to play with NBA bigs like Zion Williamson? With Caitlin Clark, there are no questions. Time and time again, she has shown the confidence, poise, and basketball IQ to get it done in the biggest moments.