The Daily Iowan names Caitlin Clark Co-Female Athlete and Newcomer of the Year

Clark shares the Female Athlete of the Year honor with senior track and field thrower Laulauga Tausaga.

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Hannah Kinson

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark dribbles toward the basket during the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball championship against No. 4 Kentucky on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at the Bill Greehey Arena at Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 86-72. No. 5 Iowa will go on to play the winner of tonight’s 8 p.m. game between No. 1 UConn and No. 8 Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen starting on Saturday. (Hannah Kinson/The Daily Iowan)

Chloe Peterson, Summer Sports Editor


 

When Caitlin Clark stepped on to the University of Iowa campus, she had big shoes to fill.

The highly-touted, five-star recruit out of West Des Moines was tasked with replacing former Hawkeye point guard Kathleen Doyle — the 2019-20 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Player of the Year.

But Clark went into the spotlight as a true freshman, joining the Hawkeye starting five as Iowa’s play-caller at point guard.

As the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Dawn Staley winner — all while navigating her first year as a Hawkeye during the COVID-19 pandemic — Clark is The Daily Iowan’s 2020-21 Co-Female Athlete of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. She shares the honor with Iowa track and field thrower Laulauga Tausaga.

Clark quickly became a mainstay in Iowa’s starting lineup, as the 6-foot freshman started in all 30 games throughout the 2020-21 season.

The freshman settled into the college basketball scene quickly, recording her first triple-double on Dec. 22 against Western Illinois University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Clark’s 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists were the first Hawkeye triple-double since Sam Logic achieved the feat on March 27, 2015, against Baylor.

Clark ended the season with nine double-doubles.

Throughout the 2020-21 season, Clark won Big Ten Freshman of the Week a record-breaking 13 times, along with four Player of the Week honors.

Shots from five feet behind the 3-point line became the norm for the freshman.

In the annual Cy-Hawk matchup, Clark lobbed a step-back 3-point shot from four feet behind the men’s 3-point line with just 24 seconds left on the clock — giving Iowa an 82-80 win and its fifth consecutive win over Iowa State.

Near the end of her freshman season, head coach Lisa Bluder said she was going to “run out of adjectives” to describe Clark.

The Hawkeyes nabbed a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament after a runner-up performance at the 2021 Big Ten Tournament.

One of the most notable moments of Clark’s young career came in Iowa’s second-round NCAA Tournament contest against No. 4-seeded Kentucky. Through the first half of the tournament contest in San Antonio, Clark’s 24 points eclipsed the 22 points coming from the entirety of the Kentucky lineup.

As the Hawkeyes propelled themselves to the Sweet 16, Clark finished with 35 points — the most by a Hawkeye in NCAA tournament history.

Clark led all of Division I NCAA women’s basketball in six categories: points per game (26.6), assists (214), field goals made (266), points (799), 3-point field goals attempted (286), and 3-point field goals made (116).

The freshman’s 799 points were over 100 clear of Iowa State’s Ashley Joens, who came in second in Division I women’s basketball with 678.

Throughout her freshman season, Clark broke a litany of Hawkeye records.

Clark’s 799 points far eclipsed Jaime Printy’s previous record of 501, set in the 2009-10 season. Her 214 assists overcame Doyle’s 148 in 2016-17.

Clark also became the Iowa women’s basketball program’s first freshman All-American as she nabbed second-team honors from the Associated Press.

Nationally, Clark won the Dawn Staley award — given to the most outstanding guard in the country. Clark is the first-ever freshman to win the award.

After Megan Gustafson left Iowa women’s basketball, people wondered if there would ever be another player like her. But after Clark’s stellar freshman season, she will only continue to rise to new heights.

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