Opinion | The case for Caitlin Clark to be national player of the year

The point guard has had an unparalleled season in 2021-22 that makes her deserving of any national player of the year award.


Gabby Drees

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark enters a basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 5 Indiana during the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 6, 2022. Clark earned 18 points. The Hawkeyes beat the Hoosiers 74-67.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball junior Gabbie Marshall said it best.

“You don’t see anybody else in the country hitting logo 3s in triple teams,” she said of teammate Caitlin Clark’s candidacy for national player of the year.

Clark, the Hawkeyes’ sophomore point guard, has been the X-factor for Iowa women’s basketball for the past two years. She led the nation in scoring in her freshman season in 2020-21 and is doing it again in 2021-22.

The sophomore out of West Des Moines, Iowa, is the 2022 Big Ten Player of the Year. She’s one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award — an honor that goes to the top point guard in the nation. Clark also jumped into the John Wooden Award National Player of the Year top-15 and is on the Naismith Player of the Year Midseason List.

This season, Clark deserves to win the Wooden Award. And the Naismith. And every other national player of the year honor that exists.

This isn’t an “I attend the University of Iowa” homer take. Clark’s resume throughout the 2021-22 season is unparalleled when compared to any other women’s basketball player in the country.

Clark has been leading the nation throughout the 2021-22 season with 27.4 points per game. Not only is she the country’s leading scorer, but she has dished out 7.9 assists per game for a total of 236 — both marks that top the national leaderboard.

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Clark is also effective at the free throw line, making a nation-leading 189 free throws.

“The thing is, people always recognize Caitlin, as she’s the leading scorer in the country,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Well, yeah, but she leads the country in assists, too. And not only that, but she’s our No. 1 rebounder, and she’s one of our best free throw shooters as well. She impacts the game in so many different ways that people sometimes get fixated on that scoring.”

Despite Clark’s accolades in 2021-22, ESPN has deemed South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston as the national player of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, Boston is a fantastic women’s basketball player. She broke the SEC’s record with 20 consecutive double-doubles this season and is seventh in the nation with 12 rebounds per game.

But as a center, it’s Boston’s duty to grab the Gamecocks’ rebounds.

Clark accumulates an average of 8.1 rebounds every game as a point guard. She flirts with a triple-double in every contest, and she stands as the only active Division I women’s basketball player with five or more career triple-doubles. She grabbed one triple-double in her freshman season in 2020-21, and five this year.

Sure, Clark has trouble with turnovers. She’s turned the ball over 147 times through 30 games.

But as the Hawkeyes’ point guard, Clark runs the offense. The ball is in her hands multiple times per possession.

“Point guards have a lot more responsibility,” Bluder said. “That’s one of the reasons I think she has made more impact on our team as an individual than other people that we’re talking about for the national player of the year.”

Historically, the national player of the year goes to the best player on the nation’s best team. No one can dispute that South Carolina, which has sat at No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll for most of the 2021-22 season, is the best women’s basketball team in the nation.

“We have great people around Caitlin,” Bluder said. “We have great basketball players. We don’t have 10 All-Americans though, like some people do, and there is a difference on them. Now, we play as a team, and we’re very, very proud of that.”

Iowa is currently No. 8 in the nation with Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. The national player of the year committees cannot deny Clark’s presence as the best player in the country any longer.