EXCLUSIVE: Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese know ‘what people want’ and will bring it to WNBA for ratings boom

NBA legend Grant Hill claimed rivalries like Iowa-LSU that defined March Madness in 2023 are necessary to grow women’s college basketball – and the emotions shown by Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese will eventually elevate the WNBA as well.

A four-year player at Duke before his career in the pros, Hill is considered one of the greatest college basketball players ever. He won a number of accolades, becoming a two-time NCAA All-American alongside the 1994 ACC Player of the Year as well as a two-time NCAA champion with the Blue Devils. He also knows about heated rivalries as well as anyone.

Last year, Clark and Iowa participated in an epic national championship game against LSU. Reese led the Tigers to victory and left her emotions on the court for all to see. Hill believes fierce-yet-exciting rivalries – as well as box office talents like Clark and Reese – can further elevate women’s college basketball.


“Rivalries in general in sport are healthy,” Hill exclusively told Mirror Sports US. “When a fanbase or maybe a player hates another set of fans, a player or a team, it illustrates the passion.

“Passion is what people want to be a part of, it’s what sells. They want to watch, to buy paraphernalia, to buy memorabilia. The passion makes college basketball, the NBA – any sport.

“It’s an exciting time right now and players like Caitlin Clark are driving women’s college basketball into a new era.”

Angel Reese led LSU to NCAA glory over Caitlin Clark and Iowa
Angel Reese led LSU to NCAA glory over Caitlin Clark and Iowa 
Image:


Getty Images)
Hill – the men’s Team USA National Team director – is a true college hoops enthusiast. As a result, he understands the weight of Clark’s incredible achievements after the Iowa star surpassed Kelsey Plum’s NCAA women’s basketball all-time scoring record recently.

On Feb. 15, Clark made a 3-pointer from the half-court logo during the Hawkeyes home game against Michigan to claim the revered record. She finished the game with 49 points, which set the Iowa single-game scoring mark.

Her efforts have helped continue the TV ratings momentum from last year’s NCAA Tournament. Clark and Reese will bring their energetic play to the WNBA either this year or next and are touted for high selections whenever they declare. Their personal rivalry – which doesn’t spill over to off-court animosity – may set the tone at the professional level.

Hill – who is set to select the men’s Team USA roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics – loves to see drama and talent arise in women’s college basketball ahead of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. “I think it’s fantastic,” Hill said. “And I just think it speaks overall to just the growth of the game. You know, we talk about international growth but also we talked about the women’s game.

“It’s interesting. The WNBA has been around 25 years now, and it’s still relatively young compared to a lot of other professional sports leagues globally. But I feel like it’s starting to hit its stride. The Las Vegas Aces have emerged lately as a dominant team.

“In the college game, there’s great upside on the women’s side – you could see that with the level of interest in that matchup [between LSU and Iowa]. There are some great players who do some incredible things on and off the court, so you can feel the WNBA getting some great momentum and trending in the right direction.

“College women’s basketball, it’s the same thing. I mean, Caitlin Clark and LSU… everyone wanted to watch it. It’s a good thing. Basketball is resonating with everyone.”

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