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With the new WNBA season starting on 14th May, teams are hoping to lock in future superstars during the draft day. To make it more special, fans will be in attendance for the marquee event, a move unseen since the 2014-16 draft, which was held at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Many have predicted the number 1 draft pick to be Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. She, alongside 14 other players, has received an invitation for the draft. This includes Cameron Brink, Kamilla Cardoso, Rickea Jackson, Aaliyah Edwards, and others.

But fans are wondering about Clark’s teammate, who represented the Hawkeyes in 166 career games. Gabbie Marshall has played the most among any Big Ten women’s basketball players ever. Yet she is not part of the invited players list or the WNBA draft. It turns out Marshall’s key focus is her studies and thus she never officially announced her desire to be part of the WNBA draft. She knew it would be her last year at the collegiate level.

My mentality this year is to focus on my teammatesJust making the most of every opportunity that I get, all the memories that we’re making. I think it’s really bittersweet,” she spoke to the media. “I think in my other years I’ve just focused on improving in basketball, which I’m still doing but at the same time, I know I’m nearing the end of my basketball career forever. I’m just trying to soak in all the memories off and on the court.

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So what are her plans ahead? She graduated from Iowa in 2023 with a degree in Health and Human Physiology. Next, she wants to attend North Carolina for a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. And while she is eligible to enter the WNBA draft, her priorities are just different. Potential prospects need to be at least 22 years old and have no remaining college eligibility (or renounce any college eligibility). These rules have been there since 2014.

While her basketball career has come to an end, her impact cannot be forgotten. In fact, Caitlin Clark, Kate Martin, and Marshall- the iconic trio- created an era that people will look up to. “We’ve been together for so long, we’ve been through it together… The ups and the downs, everything in between. I think just having those moments on and off the court to just build the chemistry between the three of us and Coach Bluder,” Marshall shared. It seems she is following in her father’s footsteps. Did you know that Marshall’s father was also a college basketball player? Yes, he played for four years at Bellarmine University in Louisville.

After graduating from there, he earned a Master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University. So currently, he works as an executive vice president at a global intelligent power management company. Similarly, his daughter is also changing her path. Gabbie Marshall and the Hawkeyes played in 2 back-to-back finals and lost both of them. Yet the team has left a lasting impression on the world, helping establish the NCAA on another level. Let us also glance at the draft!

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Expectations from the WNBA draft!

Though Marshall won’t be featuring, her teammate Clark is poised to be the #1 draft pick. For the second consecutive year, Indiana Fever will have the first pick. And they would hope just like last year, their pick wins the WNBA Rookie of the Year. Former South Carolina star Aliyah Boston was the number 1 pick back then.

The craze is just beginning for the women’s basketball scene, as they broke multiple viewership records leading up to the NCAA final. In the final 18.7 million people tuned in to watch the Gamecocks and Hawkeyes. Even when limited tickets were announced for fans, they were sold out within fifteen minutes. Approximately 1000 tickets went on sale. Even the WNBA teams are choosing to move away from their iconic venues to accommodate more fans.

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UPDATE: The Indiana Fever picked Caitlin Clark. “We are thrilled to add Caitlin Clark to our roster. This is a great day for the Indiana Fever and all of Pacers Sports & Entertainment. l am confident she will have an immediate impact on our team and the league. Any time you can add two consecutive No. 1 draft selections, it creates enormous interest and visibility,” the team’s General Manager Lin Dunn stated.

“Caitlin is one of the most naturally gifted basketball players I have ever seen enter the WNBA from the college level. Her shooting and passing abilities captivated an entire audience of basketball fans, and her ability to make those around her better was even more evident during her collegiate career. We can’t wait to bring her to Indiana and incorporate her into our locker room with a group ready to get back to the postseason.”

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Written by:

Pranav Kotai

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Pranav Kotai is an NBA beat writer at EssentiallySports. With a master's in sports management and a lifelong passion for basketball, Pranav has an eye for understanding NBA like no other. Pranav is an open encyclopedia of all storylines, with a well-rounded approach to his writing, especially for his favorites like NBA legends Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph