Today: May 30, 2024
Today: May 30, 2024

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese hope to carry over college momentum to the WNBA

Share This
Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese hope to carry over college momentum to the WNBA
April 16, 2024
DOUG FEINBERG - AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and a deep WNBA draft class hope the momentum they created lifting women’s college basketball to new heights carries over to the pros.

“We’re not just basketball players, we’re super impactful to the community, the people around us, the little kids that look up to us, and being able to also be nationwide, everybody knows us everywhere we go,” Reese said Monday night after the Chicago Sky selected the former LSU star with the No. 7 pick. “Our lives aren’t normal. We might get a little bit of normalcy going into the league now, but I’m just excited to be a trailblazer. I’m excited to be a part of history, and just continue to see the future, and I know it’s bright.”

They'll need to perform on the court for that momentum to continue at the next level and boost the league, which is coming off its own strong year. The WNBA just had its most-watched season in 21 years, averaging 462,000 viewers per game across ABC, ESPN and CBS.

The league also had its most-watched Finals in 20 years, which featured Las Vegas and New York and was won by the Aces. Viewership was up 36% from the previous season. The league’s attendance rose 16% — its highest figure since 2018. Throw Clark into the mix and that number could grow exponentially.

The potential impact of this draft class wasn't lost on WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

“I would be remiss not to mention the incredible excitement and energy for women’s basketball that this group has helped build,” she said. “It’s so clear that this draft class is entering the WNBA at an incredible time. We are witnessing a transformational moment in sports that we may not experience for generations.”

Clark, who finished her collegiate career as NCAA Division I all-time scoring leader, has helped bring millions of fans to the women's game with her signature shots from the midcourt logo and dazzling passing ability. The Iowa star was a big reason why a record 18.9 million viewers tuned in to the NCAA championship game, which the Hawkeyes lost to unbeaten South Carolina.

“It's still hard for me to wrap my head around,” Clark said of the ratings, which peaked at 24 million viewers for the title game.

Clark, who grew up in Iowa, said after being chosen by the Indiana Fever with the No. 1 pick that she was happy to go to another basketball-crazed state.

“I can’t imagine a more perfect fit, a better place for me to start my professional career, an organization that really just believes in women’s basketball and wants to do everything the right way,” she said. “So I couldn’t be more excited to get there.”

The Fever taking Clark had been a foregone conclusion since she announced on Feb. 29 she would turn pro. Nearly 17,000 tickets were claimed to watch the draft at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home to the Fever and the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

The ticket site StubHub said it already has seen a huge surge in demand for tickets, with overall sales for the Fever up 13 times over last year's start. The team still hasn't said how many tickets it sold this season.

Clark and Cameron Brink, who went No. 2 to the Los Angeles Sparks, have said many times that it would be wrong not to honor those who came before them and helped paved the way.

“I just want to continue the legacy of growing the sport, and I feel like I’ve said this a lot today, but we really have to look back at the women before us, and I know people keep saying this is a historic draft class, but there were many, many talented draft classes before us,” Clark said.

“I just want to give my props to the Dawn Staleys, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslies because they are why I’m here, because I watched them growing up. I just hope that I can continue that legacy for younger girls.”

___

AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

Popular

Columbus Crew's Wilfried Nancy, the only Black head coach in MLS, looks to inspire as well as win

Coach Wilfried Nancy led the Columbus Crew to the MLS Cup championship last year in his first season at the helm

Columbus Crew's Wilfried Nancy, the only Black head coach in MLS, looks to inspire as well as win

Jorge López cut by Mets, a day after the reliever threw his glove into the stands following ejection

Jorge López has been cut by the struggling New York Mets, a day after the reliever threw his glove into the stands following his ejection at Citi Field

Jorge López cut by Mets, a day after the reliever threw his glove into the stands following ejection

'Pure grit.' Jordan Chiles is making a run at a second Olympics, this time on her terms

Jordan Chiles is making another run at the Olympics

'Pure grit.' Jordan Chiles is making a run at a second Olympics, this time on her terms

Sacré bleu! The French Open banned alcohol in the stands after fans were called out for rowdiness

The French Open has banned fans from having alcohol in the stands at the Grand Slam tournament in Paris

Sacré bleu! The French Open banned alcohol in the stands after fans were called out for rowdiness

Dolphins agree to 3-year, $84.75 million contract extension with WR Jaylen Waddle, AP source says

A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that wide receiver Jaylen Waddle has agreed to a three-year, $84.75 million contract extension with the Miami Dolphins

Dolphins agree to 3-year, $84.75 million contract extension with WR Jaylen Waddle, AP source says

Related

Aryna Sabalenka and Daniil Medvedev advance as rain continues to disrupt the French Open

Aryna Sabalenka and Daniil Medvedev advance as rain continues to disrupt the French Open

Being an MLB catcher is grueling work. That's not slowing this year's best on offense

Being an MLB catcher is grueling work. That's not slowing this year's best on offense

Nelly Korda makes a 10 and faces uphill climb at Women's Open

Nelly Korda makes a 10 and faces uphill climb at Women's Open

Women's 3-on-3 league developed by Breanna Stewart and Napheesa Collier to debut in January

Women's 3-on-3 league developed by Breanna Stewart and Napheesa Collier to debut in January
- Advertisement -
Advertisement: Limited Time Offer