Women’s basketball in Iowa is in danger, facing unprecedented losses. Two names suddenly announced their departure from the Iowa women’s basketball team shortly after Caitlin Clark made her announcement about the 2024 WNBA Draft. Latest, Iowa coach Lisa Bluder’s response to Caitlin’s WNBA Draft announcement Clark speaks volumes

Kate Martin’s exit was already settled, and Sharon Goodman said she would also go from the Iowa women’s basketball team shortly after Caitlin Clark made her 2024 WNBA Draft announcement, leaving the Hawkeyes with voids to fill next year

Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark will be followed out of the program by fellow Hawkeyes players Kate Martin and Sharon Goodman after this season. Martin and Goodman spoke publicly on Friday afternoon ahead of Senior Day, with the latter player confirming she would forgo the option to return for 2024-25.

Martin is Iowa’s third-leading scorer at 13 points per game, while Goodman has provided value off the bench with 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. Martin will attempt to play professionally like Clark. Goodman will attend nursing school.

This week’s revelations will have a significant impact on next year’s Iowa squad, which may now take a step back from national title contention with its greatest-ever player gone and at least two co-stars leaving.

During her media availability Friday, Martin said she wanted to one day become a coach, following in the footsteps of Hawkeyes instructor Lisa Bluder. “She’s just taught me so much, and so hopefully I can be half of good of a coach as her one day.”

Later, Bluder responded: “That means a lot to me for her to say that. I think Kate’s gonna be such a good coach, she’s such a great young woman, and she embraces our values like no other.”

Iowa still expects to return star forward Hannah Stuelke next season, and the program will also welcome four top-100 recruits. Stuelke has shown signs that she can become a go-to bucket-getter, scoring 47 points against Penn State on Feb. 8. The second-year player has averaged 14.1 points and 6.8 rebounds for the season.

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 31: A young fan holds a sign as Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes is interviewed after the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena on January 31, 2024 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Caitlin Clark has garnered an unprecedented level of attention for women’s college basketball amid broader growth in the game. 
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Getty Images)
But players across the board will need to step up and play beyond expectations for the Hawkeyes to contend at the very top of the talented Big Ten in 2024-25.

Even so, Bluder and her squad are not dwelling on potential future issues or the burden that will be placed on those who return. They have major ambitions to chase this season, in the here and now, with the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament around the corner.

“Obviously, my focus is here,” Clark told reporters on Friday via Hawk Central. “My goal is to win a national title. Plain and simple, that’s what I want to do. To be honest, I’m not really looking that far ahead into the WNBA and what’s going to happen when.”

Clark added: “All of that will pan out whenever our season ends and that’s hopefully with a national title. That’s my main focus, and I think having this decision done will allow me to play my best basketball. And that’s honestly my main priority. I think that’s what led me to announce it when did.”

Iowa will conclude its regular season this weekend with a high-profile game against Ohio State. Following the emotional week for Clark, Martin and Goodman, it will be a sentimental afternoon.

However, Hawkeyes fans will likely receive at least one more farewell opportunity, as the team is set to host its first-round NCAA Tournament game in Iowa City.

Additionally, Clark and Co. will no doubt return to campus for visits throughout the coming decades where they will be welcomed back as legends of the program.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder’s response to Caitlin Clark WNBA Draft announcement speaks volumes

Lisa Bluder has issued her first comments since Caitlin Clark announced she would leave Iowa following this season.

Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder lent her public support to superstar Caitlin Clark after the guard’s program-altering decision to leave college for the WNBA

Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder issued her first comments about Caitlin Clark’s 2024 WNBA Draft decision – and the response spoke volumes about how their relationship transcends what happens on the court for the Hawkeyes.

There was no bitterness or regret in Bluder’s voice as she spoke about Clark opting to leave Iowa following this campaign to pursue her professional dreams. “She’s ready for a new challenge,” Bluder said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Clark confirmed that she announced her imminent departure before the end of the season in part to relieve teammates from uncertainty and speculation. She told reporters: “I think going into senior night having that decision clear not only for myself, but our fans, my teammates, I think that was super important.”

As expected, Bluder did her best in recent months to convince Clark to stay at Iowa even as she showed respect to the player’s own motivations. The guard was eligible to return for a fifth season, and had she come back, the Hawkeyes would have again been considered national title contenders.

“My role is to kind of point out the pros and cons of both,” Bluder said last December via KWQC. “I know that she is really intelligent, and she’s got great parents who are gonna help her make the right decision for her. All of us can think we know what the right decision is, but ultimately, it has to be her decision.”

Bluder added: “You know, none of us can make that. We all think we can, we think we know what’s best for her, but ultimately it has to be her gut feeling. So I think my role is to point out the opportunities that Iowa can provide and the benefits of staying for another year. Obviously [the Indiana Fever] are going to be doing the same thing.”

Iowa women's basketball star Caitlin Clark is WNBA-bound.
Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark is WNBA-bound. 
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Getty Images)

Even though Clark ultimately chose to leave Iowa, she’s said the whole way that it was a difficult decision not taken lightly. The 22-year-old’s relationship with Bluder was a big part of what’s made it tough to leave, with the coach overseeing her rise to superstardom. It was Bluder who helped protect her from the weight of media scrutiny and even road environments that crossed a line into becoming potentially dangerous.

“I can go and kind of live out a lifelong dream, or I can stay here and be in college, start working on my masters, or start working on another degree and still play college basketball with some of my best friends,” Clark said earlier in the season when still undecided about her future.

Clark’s departure will hurt Iowa on the court in the immediate future, but the spotlight she’s brought to the school could still help bring in top talent going forward. The Hawkeyes have four top-100 recruits for 2024-25.

 

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