The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Former Hawkeye guard Kate Martin trades ‘regular Joe Schmoe’ for Las Vegas Aces

The guard has worked hard for a role with the defending WNBA Champions.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Kate Martin poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected with the number eighteen overall pick to the Las Vegas Aces in the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Amid the 2024 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Hawkeye guard Kate Martin predicted she would be a “regular Joe Schmoe” at her career’s conclusion. Instead, she’s now in an energetic role with the WNBA defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

April 15 was destined to be a special day for the Iowa women’s basketball program. Superstar point guard Caitlin Clark was projected to be drafted first overall in the 2024 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever.

For most basketball fans, this was no surprise.

Clark shattered every NCAA record she could during her college career, including passing the legendary “Pistol” Pete Maravich to become the all-time men’s and women’s Division I scoring leader in NCAA history. She also captained the Hawkeyes to consecutive national championship game appearances while gaining global recognition in the process.

Sure enough, the Fever took advantage of the incredible opportunity and selected Clark with the No. 1 overall selection, much to the delight of the Iowa faithful.

But the night was far from over.

Watching in the audience that night was Clark’s beloved teammate Kate Martin of Edwardsville, Illinois, who became a fan favorite during her six years in Iowa City.

Martin played a crucial yet underrated role in Iowa’s title runs, and her ability to make the right plays at the right time earned her a nickname from the Hawkeye fanbase — “The Glue”. Indeed, despite Clark’s stardom, Martin was the true leader of the Iowa stable throughout the two’s career together.

Martin attended the draft with several other members of the squad to cheer Clark on, but she and her teammates secretly were anxiously awaiting for Martin’s own name to be called.

Any doubt was erased when the two-time reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces selected Martin with the No. 18 overall pick in the second round of the draft.

“All I wanted was an opportunity,” Martin said shortly after being drafted. “And I got it, and I’m really excited.”

Needless to say, she has taken full advantage of the chance.

Viva Las Vegas

Unlike the NBA, players selected in the WNBA Draft have only a short time before the season begins in early May. Since Martin and the Hawkeyes rode the postseason wave and played for a national championship in early April, that window for rest and recovery was nearly gone, as the draft was scheduled eight days after the title game.

And still, the economics of the WNBA make it tough for almost any player to make a roster, let alone stick to it for a career. Despite Martin’s future in the league seemingly quite ambitious, the guard’s grit, leadership, and step-up skill pushed her through a series of roster cuts and officially landed her on the team’s final roster for the season opener.

That Aces season opener was scheduled for May 14 against the Phoenix Mercury, leaving little time for Martin to get acquainted with head coach Becky Hammon’s playbook. The Aces defeated the Mercury, 89-82, but Martin’s role on the team still seemed a work in progress.

Martin did not see any game action, which was designated as a “coach’s decision.” And following their victory, the Aces wouldn’t play for another four days, granting some room to adjust to an entirely different basketball atmosphere from Iowa City’s.

The break allowed Martin to earn her first WNBA minutes against the Los Angeles Sparks, and she tallied her first points on a three-pointer near the end of the first half, sending the sellout crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena into a frenzy.

Though the triple marked Martin’s only points of the night, she also collected three assists, five rebounds, and one block.

That block stole the evening, though, allowing Martin to release a roar of energy as she often did in the Black and Gold when she made similar plays. This time, women’s basketball legend and Aces teammate Kelsey Plum took note.

“Kate ‘Money’ Martin — I love that kid,” Plum said postgame. “She’s been great.”

Following the game, Hammon praised Martin for her hard work throughout the game.

“She just doesn’t make mistakes,” Hammon told Athlon Sports. “She executed our schemes really well, and she plays so hard. Her sense of urgency has really been there the whole time.”

With her first career professional game then under her belt, Martin’s confidence would skyrocket.

In a rematch with the Sparks on June 9, Martin earned the first start of her WNBA career, playing 32 minutes and amassing 13 points on 71.4 percent from the field and 100 percent from deep with four boards and three dishes despite the 96-92 loss.

🚨 Rookie Kate Martin Introduced In FIRST Career Start In WNBA | Las Vegas Aces vs Los Angeles Sparks

Thus far this season, the rookie is averaging 4.5 points per game, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. And while much progress is yet needed for Martin to solidify herself on women’s basketball’s highest stage, what was a night of support for Iowa basketball’s greatest success story crafted another unique story with a lot left to be written.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Colin Votzmeyer
Colin Votzmeyer, Assistant Sports Editor
Colin Votzmeyer is a junior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communication with minors in history and criminology, law, and justice. Prior to his role as assistant sports editor, he previously served as digital producer, news reporter covering crime, cops, and courts, and sports reporter covering track and field and women's basketball. He plans on attending law school after his graduation with hopes of pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney.