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Indiana Fever select Caitlin Clark as No. 1 overall pick in WNBA Draft

INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — A new era of women’s basketball in Indianapolis is officially underway.

After weeks of anticipation, the Indiana Fever selected former Iowa standout Caitlin Clark with the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft on Monday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.

The Fever’s path to getting Clark first began to be paved in December. Indiana won the WNBA Draft lottery, earning the No. 1 overall pick for the second year in a row.

The Fever selected South Carolina forward and former Naismith Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year Aliyah Boston with last year’s No. 1 overall pick. Boston went on to be named WNBA Rookie of the Year after her first season with the Fever.

Indiana had the best odds of any team to get this year’s No. 1 overall pick, though they did not have the worst record in the WNBA last season. The Fever had the 10th-worst record in the 12-team WNBA in 2023 — 13-27.

In the WNBA, a team’s lottery odds are determined by their record over the two previous seasons. The Fever had the worst record in the league in 2022 — 5-31.

Clark declared for the 2024 WNBA Draft in February, forgoing a fifth and final year of collegiate eligibility at Iowa. WNBA rules dictate players must compete at the college level for four years before turning pro.

Clark, a graduate of Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, played 139 games for the Hawkeyes, steadily increasing her numbers each season. In her final campaign at Iowa, she averaged 31.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game across 39 contests.

Clark burst onto the scene in college. As a freshman, she racked up 26.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game.

During her career, Clark led Iowa to the NCAA Tournament four times. The Hawkeyes advanced to the national championship game on two occasions.

Clark also became the all-time leading scorer in the history of college basketball at any level, men’s or women’s, while she was at Iowa. She finished her collegiate career with 3,951 points, averaging nearly 1,000 points a season.

The Hawkeyes won three Big Ten Tournaments while Clark was in Iowa City. She also became the all-time Big Ten Women’s Basketball assists leader with 1,144 on her career.

Clark was a three-time Big Ten Women’s Basketball Player of the Year. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2020-21.

Clark’s dominance also helped her collect numerous national player of the year honors in 2023 and 2024. Over the least two seasons, Clark won the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award, both of which are given to the top player in the country annually.

As a Hawkeye, Clark also won the Nancy Lieberman and Dawn Staley awards, which recognize the best point guard and overall guard in women’s college basketball each year.

“There was kind of an explosion with the women’s college game, and I think you have to give Clark and Iowa a lot of respect for what they were able to do and create a lot of attention there in the Big Ten,” Fever general manager Lin Dunn said before Monday’s draft. “We hope this visibility, this excitement, and this get-on-board type atmosphere will carry over to the W.”

By picking Clark, the Fever have become the third team in WNBA history to pick No. 1 overall in back-to-back drafts. Seattle and Las Vegas are the other two teams to pick first overall in back-to-back years.

In 2001 and 2002, the Storm picked Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. Seattle used top picks in 2015 and 2016 to select Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd and UConn’s Breanna Stewart.

Las Vegas picked South Carolina’s A’Ja Wilson and Notre Dame’s Jackie Young with the No. 1 overall picks in 2018 and 2019.

Seattle and Las Vegas both won WNBA titles within four years of having back-to-back top draft picks. The Storm won it all in 2004 and 2018. The Aces claimed WNBA titles in 2022 and 2023.

The Fever have been down on their luck since 2015. Indiana hasn’t had a winning season in eight years.

In five of the last seven seasons, the Fever have won fewer than 10 games. Indiana posted a .500 win percentage (17-17) in 2016.

“To have that opportunity to have such generational-type players, it’s incredible,” Fever coach Christie Sides said before the draft. “Teams who have had the No. 1 pick in back-to-back years, within four years, I think, they’re playing in championship games. So, that’s good company to be in.”

The Fever have not won a WNBA Championship since 2012, when they were led by 10-time All-Star Tamika Catchings. The forward racked up 17.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game that season.

The Fever will open their 2024 campaign on May 3 in Dallas, taking on the Wings in a preseason game. Indiana’s regular season-opener is scheduled for May 14 and will pit the Fever against the Connecticut Sun on the road.

The Fever will play their first home game of the year on May 16. Indiana is slated to host the New York Liberty at Gainbridge Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.

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