10 Things You Didn’t Know About Caitlin Clark, Basketball’s Newest Superstar

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You don’t have to be sweating your March Madness bracket (or even tuned into a game) to know the name Caitlin Clark. After breaking a whole bunch of NCAA records over the past couple years, the 22-year-old Iowa Hawkeyes guard is arguably the most talked-about athlete at the moment—in college or pro sports—and she’s drawing long-deserved attention to women’s basketball while she’s at it.

During her last home game on March 3, Clark casually became NCAA’s all-time leading scorer (out of men and women). Tickets to the sold-out game were the most expensive in the history of women’s basketball (both NCAA and WNBA)—not terribly surprising, considering other ones she’s played in have drawn record-breaking TV views, too. The 15,000 fans who came to watch Clark’s court dominance IRL that day included basketball great (and Clark’s childhood idol) Maya Moore, Jake from State Farm, and rapper Travis Scott.

And she’s only looking to add to all the accolades as March Madness continues: Clark’s right in the middle of her final NCAA championship run, leading her team to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time (the team’s fourth since 2019). The top-seeded Hawkeyes will face number-five seed Colorado Buffaloes on March 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET, vying for a spot in the next step, the Elite Eight. To brush up on everything you need to know about basketball’s fastest-rising star before then, here are a few fun facts to help you get started.

1. She’s been manifesting a basketball career since third grade.

Clark grew up playing competitive sports, including soccer and softball, but she’s had basketball specifically on her mind since at the age of nine. In an ESPN Inside Look interview, Clark shared a dream board she made in elementary school of her life goals, which included earning a basketball scholarship and playing in the WNBA. Check, check. (We’ll have to stay tuned on the “giant mansion” and “three to four kids.”)

2. Clark played on boys’ teams as a kid.

As the middle child, Clark grew up in a self-described “sports family,” and her dad was her first basketball coach. He recognized her advanced skills early on, and signed her up for boys’ teams so she could continue to be challenged. She played on the boys’ soccer and basketball teams longer than most teams remain co-ed—up until about sixth grade—and even won MVP one year. “I think it was super special in my development, and it was something that never fazed me,” she told ESPN. “It was just like, I’m a girl, I can hold my own, this is not anything I’ve been afraid of.”

3. Her brothers helped her reach her athletic potential.

Clark calls her brothers both her “biggest supporters” and “biggest haters at the same time,” telling ESPN with a laugh that they continue to humble her. In particular, she credits her older brother, whom she describes as always being “bigger, stronger, faster,” for pushing her athletically. “Whenever I wanted to play with him and his friends…I never won anything, and my mom always said if you want to play with them, you’ve got to find a way to hold your own,” she told ESPN.

4. She brings home more cash than any other women’s college basketball player.

In 2021, the NCAA enacted a rule allowing college players to make money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). In other words, student-athletes can now get paid for social media brand deals, commercials, and other partnerships. The rule effectively launched the first college athlete influencers, and Clark is capitalizing on her moment.

Thanks to her 1.1 million Instagram followers and all that national attention, Clark has been a natural partner for major brands, including State Farm, Gatorade, and Nike. Her deals total $3.1 million since January 2022, according to the verified NIL deal tracker run by On3. This sum makes Clark the highest-earning NCAA women’s basketball player ever and the fourth highest-earning college athlete (behind men’s basketball players Bronny James and Shedeur Sanders and women’s gymnastics star Livvy Dune).

5. A marketing major helps her make the most of it.

When she’s not practicing free throws or pumping iron, you can catch Clark drafting a killer retail strategy. She’s an honors student majoring in marketing with a minor in communications studies at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. And her campaign-riddled Instagram grid is simply proof that hitting those books is paying off.

She summed it up in an interview with the college: “I should get internship hours for living my daily life running my business and brand.”

6. She’s famous for her impressive shooting range.

Clark’s known for sinking “logo threes”—a three-point shot made from the Hawkeye logo painted on her Iowa home court, a perch several feet from the midcourt line. These impressive shots are part of the reason Hawkeyes tickets just keep selling out.

Clark credits her long shooting range to physical power and her teammates: “It’s come with developing strength more than anything, and the right people to guard me.” Shooting from farther back on the court also changes the game, giving the Hawkeyes an edge: It opens things up, giving her teammates more space to play—and greater chances to score.

7. She’s always eager to prop up her teammates.

Despite the mountains of media attention and long list of records and accolades, Clark remains a humble team leader who always recognizes her teammates’ accomplishments. In post-game press conferences, she responds to questions about her own performance by rattling off teammates' moves that led to a W.

In an interview with NBC News after breaking the NCAA scoring record, Clark was all about the squad. “I’m just proud of our girls…I thought we played really well,” she said. Later, she specifically applauded sophomore Hawkeye Hannah Stuelke. “This is what Hannah is capable of every night. I think it’s just her confidence, believing in herself. I think she played really, really well and obviously that's going to be important going down the stretch,” she told Yahoo Sports.

8. Clark has the second most triple-doubles in NCAA history.

Clark has recorded 17 triple-doubles (a stat meaning you’ve made at least 10 assists, 10 rebounds, and 10 points in a single game) in her college career. That’s the second most triple-doubles in NCAA basketball history for both men and women, coming behind Sabrina Ionescu, who holds the overall record with 26 triple-doubles. It’s the signature of a well-rounded player, and a testament to Clark’s team awareness and feel for the game as a whole—no one can call this shooter a ball hog.

9. But it’s not all about basketball.

Despite appearing to have a laser focus on hoops, Clark likes to unwind in the off-season and between games with things outside of basketball. Given the high-pressure nature of her sport, it’s no surprise that she turns to hobbies that are more meditative—say, baking (she’s especially fond of brownies).

Clark is also working on her golf swing. She’s been hitting the links since she was six years old, but it serves another purpose now: Clark likes that the golf course offers a place where she can “do something that’s active and outside, but also with the people that I love,” as she told Golf Digest. The course is also a great place to strengthen her mental toughness, an essential muscle for any athlete.

10. Soon, it’s gonna be WNBA time.

While Clark is a senior, she actually had the option to play at Iowa for another year—that was one concession Clark and fellow 2020 NCAA student-athletes got for spending a year of college in the depths of a pandemic. So this year, Clark had to choose between sticking with Iowa or fulfilling her third-grade dreams and moving on to the WNBA.

She decided to go pro: On February 29, Clark quieted fan speculation with a social media post announcing her entrance into the 2024 WNBA draft. This was great news for the Indiana Fever, who will have the first draft pick on April 15. Now, the WNBA is notoriously less watched and funded than its male counterpart, but with a fan-favorite like Clark entering the scene, it will be interesting to see whether she continues to draw the same ticket sales, media interest, and cash to her sport as a pro.

But it’s not time for the WNBA quite yet. In the short term, the college senior has a championship to win. She’s laser-focused on one goal: “To help [the Hawkeyes] win a national title, have a lot of fun doing it, and smile on the way out.”


Originally Appeared on SELF