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Caitlin Clark Serves Epic Zion Williamson Reminder for NBA Insider After Iowa Star Overcomes 4-Year Struggle

Published 04/02/2024, 2:35 PM EDT

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Caitlin Clark has done it again. The 22-year-old guided the Iowa Hawkeyes to a remarkable win over the defending champions, the LSU Tigers, in their Elite Eight clash. While players like Kate Martin and Sydney Affolter made significant contributions for the Hawkeyes, it was Clark who stole the show. She recorded 41 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds, as the Hawkeyes ran away with the win by a scoreline of 94-87.

Caitlin Clark’s incredible display in the Elite Eight has garnered significant media coverage. Despite not yet playing a single minute in the WNBA, Caitlin Clark has already been hailed by many as the top women’s basketball player. Some have drawn comparisons between Caitlin’s college stardom and that of NBA players. ESPN’s Frank Isola likened Clark’s impact to that of Zion Williamson during his time with the Duke Blue Devils.

He said, “In the hotel, people are lining up to take selfies with her parents. She’s a phenomenon. To me, it’s very similar to Zion. Zion’s one year at Duke was the same. Every single game was an event, and it resonates with people. This girl (Caitlin Clark) is just resonating with people. She’s unlike anything we’ve seen in a really long time.”

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USA Today via Reuters

During his single-season run at Duke, Zion Williamson averaged 22.6 points, and 8.9 rebounds and led the team to Elite Eight. The forward was also the only person during the 2018-19 NCAA season to average 20.0+ points, 8.0+ rebounds, and 2.0+ steals. Knowing Clark’s own set of records, the connection may certainly hold right.

Caitlin Clark’s exploits for the Iowa Hawkeyes have earned them a Final Four matchup with Paige Bueckers’ UConn Huskies. However, after avenging last season’s finals loss against LSU, the Iowa Hawkeyes have become the nailed-on favorites to win the 2024 NCAA championship. And Caitlin Clark seems destined to clinch her maiden NCAA championship after a four-year grind.

Would Caitlin Clark’s four-year grind bear its fruits?

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Following a supremely successful high school career, Caitlin Clark joined the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2020. During her freshman season, Clark led Iowa to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament. But the Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome the first-seeded UConn Huskies, as they succumbed to a 92-72 loss. Despite Iowa’s exit in the Sweet Sixteen, Caitlin Clark was named a first-team All-American.

Clark and the Hawkeyes entered the NCAA tournament as contenders in 2020-21 after clinching the Big Ten title. However, Iowa suffered a shocking loss to the 10th-seeded Creighton. Like her freshman year, Caitlin’s sophomore season also ended in disappointment.

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Nonetheless, Caitlin Clark wouldn’t let disappointment hamper her progress. She bounced back by leading Iowa to the finals of the NCAA tournament in her junior year, where they met the LSU Tigers and Angel Reese. But despite Clark’s best efforts, LSU ran away with the title in comprehensive fashion, winning by a scoreline of 102-87.

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Having missed out on the national championship on three occasions, the 2023-24 season was the ultimate opportunity for Caitlin Clark and she has ensured to savor it well. The point guard has averaged 32 points (most in women’s college basketball), 9 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game. After defeating LSU, Iowa would face an old adversary in UConn and Paige Bueckers in the Final Four. With the pressure firmly on Clark and Iowa, could they finally win the national title?

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Written by:

Dushyant Singh

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Dushyant Singh is an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports. Ever since the Lakers’ Orlando Bubble victory, he has maintained a vigilant eye on the NBA with his research-heavy perspective, along with a specialization in covering predictive lineups. He keenly observes the evolving narratives that unfold each season.
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Edited by:

Shivatmika Manvi