Iowa’s Caitlin Clark ready to enjoy her final college games with ‘the weight of the world off my shoulders’

Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark, who is on the verge of becoming college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, said her decision to declare for the 2024 WNBA Draft and leave the University of Iowa will allow her to fully enjoy her last games with her Hawkeyes teammates.

“I think just going into senior night, having that decision clear, not only for myself, but our fans, my teammates, I think that was super important,” Clark said of her decision to publicly announce her intentions. “And honestly just, I don’t know, getting the weight of the world off my shoulders and being able to enjoy this last month with my teammates, I think is the biggest thing and I think I kind of knew in my heart.”

Clark on Thursday announced she would forgo a fifth year of college eligibility to enter next month’s WNBA Draft. Her decision came as she is poised to break the NCAA’s all-time scoring record in college basketball, with the senior needing just 18 points to cement her place in the history books.

With 3,650 career points scored, the 22-year-old guard trails only the legendary Pete Maravich, who scored 3,667 points in just three seasons at LSU between 1967 and 1970.

Clark has made a habit of breaking records this season. On Wednesday, the 22-year-old surpassed Lynette Woodward for the most points scored in major women’s college basketball history, dating back to 1981 before college women’s teams played in the NCAA and instead played under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Earlier this season, Clark passed Kelsey Plum to become the NCAA women’s basketball all-time leading scorer.

Her newest record encompasses the time both before and after the NCAA’s sponsor of women’s sports.

“After this game this weekend, we’re really only guaranteed two (more) games. So, I think just enjoying every single second and playing and having fun, there’s no reason to be tense because these moments go so fast,” Clark said Friday. “And I think that’s just the biggest thing for myself is just smile, have fun and that’s really when I play my best basketball. So, I’m excited.”

Clark said while she was looking forward to “starting a new chapter,” she wouldn’t lose sight of the road ahead for the Hawkeyes – noting her primary focus right now was finishing this season with a national title.

“Obviously, my focus is here, my goal is to win a national title. That’s plain and simple. That’s what I want to do,” a determined Clark said. “And to be honest, I’m not really looking that far ahead to the WNBA and ‘what’s going to happen when.’ All that will get panned out whenever our season ends and hopefully that’s with the national title.”

Clark acknowledged she expected Sunday’s “Senior Day” festivities following the No. 6 ranked Hawkeyes’ showdown against the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes to be an emotional affair.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “But my main goal is beating Ohio State, I think we’re all just super excited for another opportunity at them.”

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