IOWA Magazine | 05-02-2024

As WNBA Season Nears, Iowa Greats Open New Chapter

3 minute read
No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark takes her game to Indiana while Kate Martin and Megan Gustafson team up at training camp in Las Vegas.
Caitlin Clark PHOTO: BRIAN RAY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected as the first overall draft pick by the Indiana Fever at the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Caitlin Clark’s offseason seemed to fly by faster than her release on a step-back three. Days after leading Iowa back to the national championship game, Clark traveled to Los Angeles to collect her second-straight Wooden Award as college basketball’s top player. She made a cameo on Saturday Night Live the following evening. Two days later, she was on another stage in New York as the first selection of the WNBA draft.

“These are the moments you dream of,” said Clark (24BBA), who showed no signs of exhaustion when she introduced herself in April for her first jam-packed press conference with her new team, the Indiana Fever.

This spring marked the beginning of the West Des Moines native’s professional career after captivating fans with her dazzling playmaking and magnetic confidence. In her four years at Iowa, Clark evolved from a decorated recruit with limitless shooting range into the greatest scorer the college game has ever seen—not to mention a bona fide national celebrity. Now, as a WNBA rookie, she’s eager to prove herself in what she calls “the most competitive league in the world.”

Kate Martin PHOTO: BRIAN RAY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Kate Martin, who was in the audience to support teammate Caitlin Clark at the 2024 WNBA Draft, receives a hug from Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder when she was also drafted.

“I felt like I had done everything at Iowa that I possibly could, and we did a lot of amazing things,” said Clark, who became the first person to twice win the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top collegiate or Olympic athlete. “But to be able to come here and stay in the Midwest—it’s only five hours from Iowa City and seven hours from where I grew up—you can’t script it any better.”

Clark wasn’t the only Hawkeye to hear her name called on draft night. The defending champion Las Vegas Aces selected Kate Martin (22BS) in the second round. A three-year Iowa captain, Martin vied for a roster spot this past spring in training camp alongside former Iowa All-American and sixth-year WNBA player Megan Gustafson (19BBA), who signed with the Aces in the offseason.

Clark and Martin join 17 previous Hawkeyes who have been drafted or signed free agent contracts with WNBA teams since the league began in 1997. Iowa’s notable WNBA alums include Michelle Edwards (89BGS), 1997-2001 with Cleveland and Seattle; Toni Foster (00BA), 1997-99 with Phoenix; and Tangela Smith (98BS), 1998-2012 with five teams.

You’ve all inspired me as much as I inspired you.” —Caitlin Clark

The Clark Effect sent tidal waves across the WNBA even before her debut in May. Her Fever jersey sold out within an hour of the draft, and Indiana games became the hottest ticket in basketball months ahead of the season opener. Clark also made headlines by re-signing with Nike in a record endorsement deal reportedly worth $28 million over eight seasons that includes a signature shoe.

Clark, who graduates in May with her business degree, is now launching 3-pointers from the Fever logo. But before she left campus, Clark said farewell to nearly 8,000 fans who showered her with one last ovation inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in a postseason celebration in April, when Iowa announced that her No. 22 would be retired.

“I would say you’ve all inspired me as much as I inspired you,” she said.

Join our email list
Get the latest news and information for alumni, fans, and friends of the University of Iowa.

Clark's Training Camp Highlights

Clark's Training Camp Highlights

Join our email list
Get the latest news and information for alumni, fans, and friends of the University of Iowa.
Related Articles

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Statement unless you have disabled them in your browser.