Iowa Women's Basketball

For Caitlin Clark, bond with Iowa's staff, players was the difference

She becomes the cornerstone of a recruiting class ranked 15th in the nation

West Des Moines Dowling's Caitlin Clark (11) brings the ball downcourt as Waukee's Peyton Kelderman (14) defends during the 2019 girls' state basketball tournament. Clark has signed with the University of Iowa and becomes the cornerstone of a recruiting class ranked 15th in the nation. (The Gazette)
West Des Moines Dowling's Caitlin Clark (11) brings the ball downcourt as Waukee's Peyton Kelderman (14) defends during the 2019 girls' state basketball tournament. Clark has signed with the University of Iowa and becomes the cornerstone of a recruiting class ranked 15th in the nation. (The Gazette)

Caitlin Clark could have gone to Iowa State, to follow her brother.

She could have gone to Notre Dame, well, because it’s Notre Dame.

Instead, she chose to blaze her own trail with the University of Iowa women’s basketball program.

“I wanted to stay close and do something special,” said Clark, the highly sought-after point guard from West Des Moines Dowling. “I want to play right away, and I know I’ll have to work my butt off to do it.

“I have big dreams for myself.”

Clark, the fourth-ranked senior prospect in the nation according to ESPN, spoke Thursday morning via telephone, two days after she disclosed her choice on Twitter.

A 5-foot-11 senior, Clark averaged 32.5 points per game last season as the Maroons went 17-8 and reached the Class 5A state semifinals. She said she was torn between Iowa and national powerhouse Notre Dame when she took an official visit to South Bend in October.

“Everybody says they have that feeling, ‘This is it!’ But I never had that there,” she said.

The fact that her older brother Blake — a redshirt freshman on the football team — is at Iowa State wasn’t a selling point, either.

“We are each other’s biggest fans, but that didn’t play a factor in my decision,” Clark said.

Her bond with the Iowa coaches and players did, though.

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“The staff is really great, and I get along with the girls,” she said. “They have a good crowd every game, good support.

“I like the possibility of doing something there that’s never been done.”

Clark is undecided on a major. She is one of three Iowans in the Hawkeyes’ recruiting class of seniors, joining Sharon Goodman (Lime Springs/Crestwood High School) and Shateah Wetering (Montezuma). Lauren Jensen of Lakeville (Minn.) North rounds out the class, which is ranked 15th nationally by ESPN.

“We are thrilled with our recruiting class,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said in a statement. “We addressed all the perimeter needs that will need to be filled due to graduation. In addition, we strengthened our inside game. I truly see a bright future for this class and see them making an immediate contribution.”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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