Iowa star Caitlin Clark wins Wooden Award, completing sweep of National Player of the Year awards

Clark, who has now won all five National Player of the Year awards, also defended LSU's Angel Reese and the practice of trash talk during an interview on ESPN.

Caitlin Clark might not be an NCAA champion, but it is now pretty much unanimous there was no better player in women's college basketball this year.

The Iowa star was named the 2023 John R. Wooden Award winner, completing a clean sweep of the major National Player of the Year awards.

Clark won the award over a large array of finalists, including Final Four Most Outstanding Player Angel Reese of LSU, reigning Wooden winner Aliyah Boston of South Carolina, and the nation's leading scorer Maddy Siegrist of Villanova.

Over the past few weeks, Clark has racked up awards, winning the Naismith Trophy, Associated Press Player of the Year, Wade Trophy and USBWA national player of the year honors, on top of her second unanimous All-American honors, a second Big Ten Player of the Year award and a third Dawn Staley Award as the nation's best guard. And considering the season she had, she deserved every single one.

She was the nation's second-leading scorer, averaging 27.8 points per game. She also averaged a Division I-leading 8.6 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game, and added five triple-doubles. Her excellence continued into the Final Four, where she dropped 41 points in a career-defining upset of undefeated South Carolina and 30 points in Iowa's national championship loss to LSU.

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 31: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates a play against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the semifinals of the NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament Final Four at American Airlines Center on March 31, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Caitlin Clark was second in scoring and first in assists in Division I this year. (Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images) (Ben Solomon via Getty Images)

Clark defends Reese, trash talk in general

LSU winning the tournament over Iowa and Clark was huge news, but it was eclipsed by the fake outrage over Reese's "you can't see me" gesture. Clark did it first, but Reese is the one who got the criticism.

During an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Tuesday, Clark said she didn't think Reese should have been criticized at all for her gesture. The way she told it, they're both competitors, and trash talk is part of the game, just like many other players.

"I don't think Angel should be criticized at all. No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I'm just one who competes and she competed, so I think everyone knew there was going to be a little trash talk the entire tournament. It's not just me and Angel."

Clark also defended trash talk in general, pointing out that male athletes talk trash all the time and no one clutches their pearls in abject horror when it happens.

"Men have always had trash talk. That's what it's been. I think more and more people, as they turn on the game, they're appreciating it for what it is. I'm just lucky enough that I get to play this game and have emotion and wear it on my sleeves, and so does everybody else. That should never be torn down, that should never be criticized, because I believe that's what makes this game so fun. That's what draws people to this game.

"You should be able to play with that emotion. That's what makes it so fun. Nobody wants to tune in and not see people competitive and compassionate about what they're doing. Across any sport, that's how it should be. That's how I'm going to continue to play, that's how every girl should continue to play."

Clark and Reese both have remaining collegiate eligibility so it's quite possible they get another opportunity to play against each other in college before going pro. And in case you were wondering, no, they won't be visiting the White House together.