Iowa+guard+Caitlin+Clark+drives+to+the+rim+during+a+women%27s+basketball+game+between+Iowa+and+Minnesota+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+6%2C+2021.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Golden+Gophers%2C+92-79.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark drives to the rim during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 92-79.

Point Counter-Point | Is Caitlin Clark the Big Ten Player of the Year?

Two DI staffers debate if Clark has what it takes to bring home the award.

February 2, 2021


 

Yes

It seems as if Michigan’s Naz Hillmon is getting the most attention for Big Ten Player of the Year, and that is somewhat understandable.

She leads the conference in scoring and rebounding and has taken Michigan to new heights this season, as the Wolverines near the top of the conference.

However, Clark’s numbers are also mind blowing, and she’s elevated Iowa to a NCAA Tournament caliber team. She has also replaced the defending Big Ten Player of the Year Kathleen Doyle — a feat no one would have thought possible a year ago.

Despite only being a freshman, Clark is the only player in the country to average over 20 points a game, six assists, and six rebounds per game, as of Monday. It’s a true testament to her game that she is already able to excel in all three categories and have such a profound impact on her team.

Clark is ahead of Hillmon in the assists category, where she is the current leader of the conference. She is in the top 20 of virtually every statistical category and already plays exceptional on both sides of the ball.

Clark has won an incredible eight out of 11 Big Ten Freshman Player of the Week awards and three Big Ten Player of the Week awards already this season. That ties her with Hillmon at three Player of the Week honors.

If Clark continues with a strong finish to the season, there is no reason she should not win Big Ten Player of the Year for the conference. If she does miss out, she’ll likely be back in the running for years to come.

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No

There is no doubt that Caitlin Clark is going to be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

She’s been the Big Ten Freshman of the Week eight times out of 11 weeks this season, and the only reason she didn’t win one week was because Iowa didn’t play a game.

Above that, she’s won Big Ten Player of the Week three times. Clark averages 25.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and is the most explosive player on Iowa’s offense, with five double-doubles and one triple-double on the season.

But, as all freshmen do, Clark has some faults in her game. She’s still getting used to the pace of Division I college basketball, and it shows in her turnovers. Clark has 67 turnovers through 14 games so far this season, averaging almost five turnovers per game.

While Clark is a frontrunner to be Player of the Year, she is competing against Michigan’s Naz Hillmon, 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and 2020-21 Pre-season Co-Big Ten Player of the Year.

Hillmon has been electric the entire 2020-21 season, winning the Big Ten Player of the Week award three times, the same as Clark. She has posted eight double-doubles in 10 games and was the first player this season to post 50 points in one game. And for Hillmon, the accomplishments will only continue to grow.

Clark definitely will be Big Ten Player of the Year — and possibly National Player of the Year — at some point in her college career. But she’ll have to settle for the Freshman of the Year honor this season.

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