Caitlin Clark named Naismith National Player of the Year over reigning winner Aliyah Boston

Iowa's Caitlin Clark was named Naismith National Player of the Year on Wednesday, beating out 2022 winner Aliyah Boston and fellow finalists Maddy Siegrist (Villanova) and Elizabeth Kitley (Virginia Tech).

Clark won the award two days before her Hawkeyes are slated to play Boston's South Carolina Gamecocks in the Final Four.

A junior guard, Clark's averaged 27.3 points, 8.6 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 47.4% from the field and 39.2% from 3-point distance. She's the nation's third-leading scorer while her assists tally ranks best in the nation. She was named a unanimous selection to the AP All-America team on March 15, her second time earning first-team honors.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) and forward Monika Czinano celebrate after a Sweet 16 college basketball game against Colorado in the NCAA tournament, Friday, March 24, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Caitlin Clark can add the Naismith Award to her trophy case. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Clark leads the nation with five triple-doubles. A 41-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound effort in Sunday's Elite Eight win over Louisville was the 11th triple-double of her career, which ranks second all-time behind ex-Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu (27). She regularly accounts for an outsized portion of Iowa's offense; her buckets and assists contributed to 70 of Iowa's 97 points in Sunday's win over Louisville.

Clark's long-range distance and penchant for pulling up from the logo have helped raise her profile as she's led Iowa to the Final Four as a No. 2 seed.

Clark beat out Final Four foe Boston, who's remained the best player on the nation's best team. A senior center and defensive force, Boston's averaged 13.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2 blocks while shooting 56.8% from the field for a South Carolina team that started the season ranked No. 1 and enters the Final Four with a 36-0 record.

Boston won unanimous National Player of the Year honors in 2022 as she led the Gamecocks to a national championship. She's remained an elite player and a unanimous All-America selection, but her production dipped this season from her 2021-22 NPOY campaign as South Carolina relied more on other players while defenses have focused on Boston. Last year, she averaged 16.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

Friday's Final Four game between Iowa and South Carolina at 9:30 p.m. ET in Dallas is arguably the most anticipated of the season. The winner will advance to a national championship matchup against the winner between No. 1 seed Virginia Tech and No. 3 seed LSU.