Clark’s teammates and coaches believe the NPOY award is well deserved for the Iowa junior

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 11:14 PM CDT
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DALLAS, TX (KCRG) - It was no surprise, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark won the Naismith National Player of the Year award on Wednesday. Seeing how far she’s come, it is hard to believe that the Des Moines native almost didn’t become a Hawkeye.

“At first, I told Coach Bluder no. That was probably the dumbest thing I’ve done in my life. Then I retracted and called her and said, ‘well, do you still want me to play for you?’ She said absolutely. I think she was out to dinner and bought some champagne

Caitlin Clark solidified her case as to why she’s one of the best players in college basketball in Iowa’s Elite Eight victory over Louisville. Clark became the first player to register a 40-point triple-double in the NCAA Tournament. Her teammates say that’s been Caitlin all season.

“In my opinion, it’s not even a question at this point. She’s doing things that are just absolutely unreal. I don’t think I’ve even realized, because it happens every day. It’s Caitlin being Caitlin,” fifth-year center Monika Czinano said.

“A triple-double on this stage, to go to the Final Four, against a really good defensive team - she’s the national player of the year in my eyes no matter what,” redshirt senior guard Kate Martin added.

With her teammates, coaches and family present on Wednesday, Clark was presented the Naismith trophy. She’s just the second player from the Big Ten to win the award and second from Iowa following Megan Gustafson.

“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.

“There’s nobody that can do what she do I believe in women’s basketball, maybe not in men’s basketball right now,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “The fans recognize that and they want to see her play. How fortunate are we in the state of Iowa to have a player like this and for Hawk fans to cheer for her on this national stage.”

Getting to this stage, is something the junior guard has envisioned for quite some time.

“I don’t think a lot of people believed me when I said this in high school. A lot of doubters, a lot of people saying, you think you’re really going to make it to the Final Four with the University of Iowa. I believed it, every single second,” Clark said.

Clark believes the company around are her and the hard work they’ve put in is a big reason Iowa has advanced to their second NCAA Final Four in program history and first since 1993.

“I always bet on myself and Coach Bluder had the belief in me and that’s really all you can have,” Clark said. “The same dream as your head coach, and turn that into the locker room having the same dream. That’s exactly what we’ve built over the last three years, and this team has a confidence about them that is rare. Not a lot of people have it. I don’t think we’re the most athletic and skilled team, fastest team, but we play with a love for one another and that’s going to carry you further than any skill or talent ever could.”