Clark credits team after receiving Naismith Player of the Year award

Caitlin Clark was named the 2023 Naismith Player of the Year in Dallas Wednesday afternoon - college basketball's highest honor.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 7:34 PM CDT
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DALLAS, TX (KCRG) - Surrounded by her teammates, coaches and family, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark was named the Naismith National Player of the Year. The first thing she did once taking the podium is thank her support system.

“When I was here in Minnesota last year, you know, my goal was to be here with my team. That’s the most important thing to me is to be at the Final Four competing with my team. I know this award isn’t possible without every single one of you back there and I truly mean that, so it’s just as much yours as mine,” Clark said at the podium.

“That’s Caitlin. I mean, basketball is a team sport. Even though there’s individual honors and individual stars, you’re just not successful unless you have a great group around you and she has raised the bar. When she came to campus, she said I want to go to Final Four. At first, you know, everybody was like oh really? Should you be saying that? She got them all to believe and this is where we are,” Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder said.

Getting to this stage in Dallas is something that junior guard has envisioned for quite some time.

“More than anything, I don’t think this is the reason you play basketball. I think it comes with the joy and the passion that you play with and certainly that I play with. I think that’s what’s been so fun for me this year. I’ve just had so much fun playing basketball. This has come along with that. Reaching the Final Four has come along with that. When you just love what you do every single day, really good things come from that,” Clark said.

Clark is just the second player from the Big 10 to win the honor and the first Hawkeye since Megan Gustafson.

“Just so thankful. I think it’s really neat that one was a center and one was a point guard, so it’s different positions as well. It just shows you what we can accomplish when people put their heads together, their dreams together and great things can happen to them,” Bluder said.

Although she’s honored to have received this award, her focus heading into the rest of the week is to play two more games.

“I think I already kind of have a big target on my back. I think our team does too,” Clark said. ”I think people want to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes and that’s what we have felt all year long. I don’t think it changes anyway or how I go about things. I just try to focus on myself, focus on the team and do what I have to do to go on there and show up every single night for those girls,” she added.