Mar 1, 2024 - Sports

Magical season has Caitlin Clark close to Pete Maravich's scoring record

Data: Sports Reference, NCAA; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios
Data: Sports Reference, NCAA; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

It's been a magical, generational moment in our state as the world watches Caitlin Clark.

Why it matters: Clark's captivated the country while rewriting NCAA records and selling out arenas Taylor Swift-style, bringing fanatic viewership to the historically undervalued sport of women's basketball.

Driving the news: Clark is now women's college basketball's all-time scoring leader and just 18 points away from topping the men's NCAA record set by "Pistol Pete" Maravich in 1970 — a once-considered untouchable 3,667 points set before the introduction of the three-point line.

How it started: Iowa women's basketball associate head coach Jan Jensen told IPR this week that Clark's meteoric rise to becoming a household name is "perfect timing" built upon previous generations of Iowa women and local support for women's athletics.

  • When Clark was in 6th grade, Jensen watched her play in her hometown of West Des Moines and noticed she already had personality and three-point range.
  • "Boy, you could see she was special," Jensen told IPR.

State of play: The emergence of name, image and likeness deals have also helped Clark earn this moment. She's on cereal boxes and State Farm commercials.

  • Her style of play, with jaw-dropping passes and logo shots, alongside swagger and confidence, lends itself to social media buzz.

💭 Linh's thought bubble: Your newsletter writers are admittedly not huge sports viewers.

  • But there's something about this collective moment behind Caitlin and the Hawkeye women that feels so positive and exciting for our community.

What's next: The Hawkeyes play Ohio State at noon Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena before heading to the Big Ten Tournament and March Madness.

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