Why Caitlin Clark chose to leave Iowa for WNBA and made announcement before end of season

Caitlin Clark’s announcement that she would leave the Iowa women’s basketball team for the WNBA in two months seemingly came out of nowhere, as many analysts had expected the superstar to wait until after the NCAA Tournament to reveal her decision. Instead, she made the call public with one regular-season contest to go and many more postseason games on the docket.

“While this season is far from over and we have a lot more goals to achieve,” Clark wrote on social media, “it will be my last one at Iowa. I am excited to be entering the 2024 WNBA Draft.


“It is impossible to fully express my gratitude to everyone who has supported me during my time at Iowa – my teammates, who made the last four years the best; my coaches, trainers, and staff who always let me be me; Hawkeye fans who filled Carver every night; and everyone who came out to support us across the country, especially the young kids.”

So, why did Clark decided to tell the world right now that she’s leaving college basketball for the professional ranks? Mirror Sports US breaks down the decision…

Reasons for Caitlin Clark’s 2024 WNBA Draft declaration

The first and perhaps most obvious reason for Clark’s choice to go to the WNBA is because she’s good enough. On the way to resetting the entire NCAA record book, there would be little left for the presumptive No. 1 overall pick to prove at Iowa in 2024-25, no matter how much she loves the school.

Opinions vary on how effective Clark will be from the get-go in the WNBA. Yet most experts agree she’ll quickly live up to the hype, with some well-respected names believing she’ll be among the best players in the league right away. Rebecca Lobo called her an MVP candidate, while Sue Bird settled for the slightly more measured All-Star prediction.

“I think if she plays up to her potential, yes, [making the All-Star team as a rookie] is realistic,” Bird said on the “Sports Media Podcast” recently. “And, by the way, that’s not a knock on anyone in the WNBA. It’s going to be hard, but I think she can do it. You do have to see what happens when they get there. You are now playing against adults and this is their career. But I do think she has a chance at having a lot of success early, and I think a lot of it comes down to her long-distance shooting. That is her separator. You’re not really used to guarding people out there.”

Caitlin Clark will leave Iowa owning an array of NCAA records.
Caitlin Clark will leave Iowa owning an array of NCAA records. 
Getty Images)

There’s also the Olympics issue. Clark has yet to make a senior appearance with Team USA, and time is running out for her to convince head coach Cheryl Reeve to put her on the plane to Paris.

By going to the WNBA, Clark will get to play three months professionally before the Olympics. That’s enough time to make a strong Olympics case against the very best women’s basketball players in the world. If she’d stayed at Iowa, that stretch of time would have essentially been a dead period.

Why did Caitlin Clark announce her decision early?

While Clark has been a good sport about the blinding spotlight on her every move this season, she’s dealt with moments that would frustrate even the most level-headed people in the world. Most of the fan fare is out of her control. But the persistent questions about her future? That’s a distraction she knew she could kill with a single social media post.

Last week, reporters pestered Clark about her WNBA plans within an hour of one of her toughest college basketball losses – a blowout defeat at Indiana in which the Hoosiers seemed to get under her skin at times. She navigated the situation gracefully, roughly repeatedly the lines she’d given media members throughout the season.

“I’m just focused on this team right now, playing my heart out for Iowa and getting to represent this state every day,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about, and I’m not really worried about the future. It is what it is, and it comes when it comes.”

With Iowa showing clear weaknesses ahead of the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament, Clark likely wanted to help her squad focus as much as possible to make necessary tweaks. The Hawkeyes have been abysmal defensively on the road against quality opponents. Anything less than 100 percent concentration on addressing that issue would hurt their national title hopes.

In addition to ending the external speculation and questions about her future, Clark’s move also provides an extra bit of clarity and motivation for teammates. They will now know that it’s now-or-never to win a championship alongside the greatest player in program history. There are no do-overs. From here through March Madness will be a thrilling final ride.

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