ESPN shares way-too-early ranking for 2023-24 Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball

With Iowa’s historic 2023 NCAA Tournament run in the rearview mirror, attention is turning toward what should be a memorable 2023-24 women’s college basketball season for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa fans are already frothing at the mouth to watch this team back on the hardwood. That’s evidenced by the overwhelming demand for season tickets. So many Hawkeye fans are trying to buy 2023-24 season tickets that the University of Iowa froze season ticket sales.

In short, Hawkeye fans can’t get enough of this team. For good reason, too. Iowa figures to be one of the national title favorites.

ESPN’s Charlie Creme put together his initial way-too-early rankings for the 2023-24 women’s college basketball season. As expected, with Caitlin Clark and several other core pieces back in the fold, the Hawkeyes are projected to be one of the nation’s best.

Creme ranked the Iowa Hawkeyes No. 4 in his first way-too-early rankings.

Monika Czinano, Iowa’s sure-handed can’t-miss center, is moving on. And although the chemistry of this season’s team likely can’t be duplicated, Clark keeps the Hawkeyes in the national picture despite losing to LSU in Sunday’s national title game. It helps that Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin have elected to stay for their extra years, which should mitigate the losses of Czinano and McKenna Warnock some. Look for 6-2 rising sophomore Hannah Stuelke and 6-5 rising junior Addison O’Grady to play much bigger roles — and for Clark to continue to dazzle on a nightly basis. – Creme, ESPN.

Clark by herself is a better place to start than most anybody in women’s college basketball. She’s the preeminent star in the sport right now.

Clark registered an NCAA Tournament scoring record, pouring in 191 points in the Hawkeyes’ six games. She averaged 31.8 points during the tournament registered a pair of 40-point games. Clark’s 40-point triple-double in the Elite Eight versus Louisville was the first of its kind.

The returns of both Marshall and Martin provides immediate stability and familiarity around Clark’s star power. Martin and Marshall averaged 7.7 and 6.2 points per game and combined to shoot 41.4% and 37.9% from 3-point range, respectively, last season. That means Iowa has a pair of reliable 3-point shooters and defenders to pair with Clark. Plus, the amount of starts the trio has enjoyed together thus far.

As Creme notes, it will be fun to watch the development of talented youngsters Hannah Stuelke and Addison O’Grady.

Stuelke, a 6-foot-2 forward, averaged 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds on 61.0% field goal shooting in her first season on campus. She put those numbers together in just 12.9 minutes of average floor time.

Meanwhile, O’Grady averaged 2 points and 1.4 rebounds while receiving an average of 5.6 minutes per contest. O’Grady showcased her potential for growth in the Hawkeyes’ final two games, though. She scored four points and had a block in Iowa’s upset win over South Carolina. Then, in the national championship game versus LSU, O’Grady registered four points, five rebounds and three blocks in 18 minutes of floor time.

Time will tell if a roster spot opens for Iowa to add anyone of note out of the NCAA transfer portal. Right now, there isn’t a spot available.

The rest of Creme’s top 10 looked like this: No. 1 UConn, No. 2 Utah, No. 3 LSU, No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Stanford and No. 10 Notre Dame.

The only other Big Ten team to grace Creme’s way-too-early top 25 was No. 12 Maryland.


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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire