Final Four notebook | Sharon Goodman earns Elite 90 Award, Dawn Staley emphasizes star power

The Iowa women’s basketball sophomore earned the honor for having the highest GPA of any player in the Final Four.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa center Sharon Goodman cheers during a 2023 NCAA First Round women’s basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 16 Southeastern Louisiana in sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, March 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lions, 95-43.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

DALLAS — Caitlin Clark hasn’t been the only award-winner for the Hawkeye women’s basketball team this week.

On Wednesday, sophomore center Sharon Goodman won the 2023 Elite 90 Award, which honors the player with the highest GPA at the Final Four.

“I think it’s really special,” Goodman said. “I mean, it’s even been special to have a lot of people from home, reach out and say congrats. That’s really special too. I’m a hometown girl, playing for the state of Iowa. And that means a lot just to represent my hometown.”

Goodman found out she won the award at a players event on Wednesday night. Her eyes widened as her major, health studies, was announced and her teammates started cheering. After collecting the award from the stage, she returned to her teammates, who were chanting, “Speech! Speech! Speech!” 

In tandem with her teammates, Goodman chanted, “No! No! No!”

“I, necessarily, wouldn’t want the spotlight on me,” Goodman said. “I’d rather it be on my team. So, it was special, but I don’t necessarily like getting all that attention.”

Goodman has played sparingly off the bench this season, coming off an ACL tear in October 2021. She’s only taken the floor in 13 games this year, with 21 field goal attempts.

“It’s definitely been a journey,” Goodman said. “It’s a hard process. But really, I mean, I can’t be struggling right now. My team has been so great, and I’m very happy for them. But I mean, as an individual, I’m just gonna keep working hard.”

Goodman is only pursuing a general health studies major for her undergraduate degree, she said. But after her basketball career is over, she plans to go into nursing.

Cooke, Boston share Team USA history with Clark

Clark has a basketball history with South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke — not as opponents, but teammates.The three played together on a Team USA U16 Team while they were in high school. 

And even back then, Cooke thought Clark was a sharpshooter.

“Caitlin has always been a knockdown shooter since I can remember, and she’s also a great teammate,” Cooke said. “I think we played together for two years. All three of us played together. She’s definitely a knockdown shooter, but her game has grown tremendously in a lot of different ways, and I can’t wait to see it.”

Cooke is South Carolina’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, while Boston averages 13.2. The trio will match up when Iowa takes on South Carolina tomorrow at 8:30 p.m.

Clark v. Boston debate brings more attention to women’s basketball

Throughout the women’s basketball season, fans have debated if Boston, the 2022 National Player of the Year, or Clark should earn the national honor in 2023.

Even though the debate has given women’s basketball more attention, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said, some people went too far in their opinions. 

“Any time you’re able to talk about our game and talk about two young women who have been storylines throughout the season, I think is great,” Staley said. “I do think some people do cross the line at times because each of their fan bases’ favorites? It’s been talked about. I just don’t like when people cross the line because our game is pure, it’s blossoming.”

The Clark v. Boston debate was put to rest on Wednesday when Clark won the Naismith Award, but Staley loves the recent star power in women’s basketball across the country.

“It’s been building toward this for a long time,” Staley said. “Fortunately for us — not just South Carolina, but us as women’s basketball — we’ve got a lot of star power behind our sport. … You’ve got all these players who have been incredible, just incredible — creating incredible stories for our game.”