Iowa sophomore guard Caitlin Clark speaks on her accomplishments, her hopes for the remainder of the season and her plans for the future.
By Zachary Draves | SB NAtion
If you’re looking for a 6-foot point guard who is a consummate playmaker and can handle the ball with such precision, get her teammates involved at every chance, shoot the ball from beyond the arc as good as the likes of Steph Curry, put up triple doubles and win you the game, then Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is the player for you.
The 19-year-old sophomore is on a roll and she has been collecting accolade after accolade going all the way back to the 2020-21 season when she first came to Iowa City.
After scoring an impressive 27 points in her first game as a Hawkeye, Clark set the Iowa freshman record of 26.6 points per game that season and became Division I’s scoring leader.
Along with that, she led the nation in total assists (214), total points (799), field goals made (266) and 3-pointers made (116).
As a result, she was named Big Ten Conference Player of the Week a record five times and was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. In addition, she led her team to the Sweet 16.
Fast forward to the present day and Clark is still on top of her game.
Thirteen games into the year she is averaging 25.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game.
She became the fastest player in the Big Ten to reach 1,000 career points with an astounding 44-point game against Evansville on Jan. 3 and was again honored as Big Ten Player of the Week.
All the while, her team has been establishing itself as a perennial contender with a solid 9-4 overall record and a 3-1 record in conference play. The Hawkeyes were ranked in the Top 20 up until Dec. 27.
With all these personal accolades and history-making performances, Clark is mindful of the fact that these moments are ones to savor. But she is also keeping an eye on the ultimate accolade.
“When you reach a milestone, it is a surreal thing.” she said. “You also try to move on game to game.”
It is clear when you watch Clark play that she has a strong desire to win, will do whatever it takes to get the job done and is a team-first player.
It’s also clear is that she has a true passion for the game and that stems from her upbringing right in Iowa City’s backyard.
She grew up in Des Moines and is the daughter of Brent and Anne Nizzi-Clark.
She also has two brothers: Blake, a football player at Iowa State, and Colin. It was through a family passion for sports that she was led down the path she is currently on. It fueled an intense desire to prove she was as good as, if not better than the boys.
“I am very passionate and that is how I grew up from a young age playing with boys,” Clark said. “Growing up with an older and younger brother, we played a lot and my parents got me into soccer, softball, and track.”
Ultimately, her calling was the hardwood and she became a four-year starter at Dowling High School in West Des Moines.
She was so good that she was named Iowa Miss Basketball, Gatorade State Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American.
Clark’s journey to Iowa City has placed her in some great company, most notably with her coach, Lisa Bluder, whom she affectionately refers to as a “player’s coach”.
Clark described how Bluder lives up to the moniker by the ways in which she adapts her game plan to accommodate everyone.
“She changes her system based on who comes in,” Clark said. “I love playing for a player’s coach.”
Coach Bluder recently joined an elite club of college basketball royalty with 800 career wins. Clark expressed pride in being a part of history and hopes that her coach gets the credit she deserves when it’s all said and done.
Clark also loves the camaraderie of an Iowa team that possess the same intensity and passion for the game that she does.
In other words, she is right where she needs to be at the right time with the right people.
Not only is the present really good for Clark, but big things could also be in store for both her an Iowa for years to come.
“Our goal is to get to the Final Four,” she said. “My goal is to play in the WNBA and overseas and I see basketball in my future.”
When asked if she sees herself playing in the Olympics, she resoundingly said “Yes”.
Clark referred to her recent experience in the 2021 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Hungary in which Team USA steamrolled to gold and she was named MVP. She feels that has motivated her to experience more success with Team USA.
“The Olympics is a dream for everyone and wearing USA across your jersey is something special,” she said.
It is safe to say the sky’s the limit for Caitlin Clark.
Her resume says it all.
She got game.