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NCAA star Caitlin Clark headed to Indiana Fever as 1st overall pick of WNBA draft | CBC Sports



Caitlin Clark admitted she was a bit nervous before being chosen with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever, even though it was no surprise.

“I dreamt of this moment since I was in second grade, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, but more than anything, just trying to soak it in,” Clark said.

The former Iowa star became a household name among basketball fans during her record-breaking college career, and she will now try and help revive the Indiana franchise along with last season’s No. 1 pick, Aliyah Boston.

“The organization has one of the best post players in the entire world. My point guard eyes light up with that,” she said.

WATCH | Clark selected 1st overall by Fever:

Caitlin Clark selected 1st overall in WNBA Draft by Indiana Fever

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark is chosen by the Indiana Fever as the first pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

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.

Clark has helped bring millions of fans to the women’s game with her signature shots from the midcourt logo and passing ability. The NCAA’s all-time scoring leader was a big reason why a record 18.9 million viewers tuned in to the national championship game, which Iowa lost to unbeaten South Carolina. The Hawkeyes were also the national runners-up to LSU a year earlier.

Clark, who wore a white Prada jacket and skirt, hugged her parents and brothers and Iowa coach Lisa Bluder after she was drafted.

The draft was held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in front of 1,000 fans, who bought all the tickets within 15 minutes of them going on sale a few months ago.

Aaliyah Edwards of Kingston, Ont., was picked sixth overall by the Washington Mystics.

The 21-year-old Edwards was projected to be a first-round pick after a four-year career at UConn where she was a two-time all-American. Edwards was coming off a senior season in which she averaged career highs of 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds as the Huskies made it to the Final Four in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

The six-foot-three forward broke out in her junior season, averaging 16.6 points and nine rebounds per game and being a staple of the team’s success as the Huskies dealt with injuries. She earned AP third-team all-America honours, while also being named all-Big East first team, Big East most improved player and Big East Tournament most outstanding player in 2022-23.

WATCH | Edwards chosen 6th by Mystics:

Canada’s Aaliyah Edwards selected 6th overall in WNBA Draft by Washington Mystics

University of Connecticut Huskies forward Aaliyah Edwards from Kingston, Ont., is chosen by the Washington Mystics as the sixth pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Los Angeles chose Stanford’s Cameron Brink at No. 2. She’ll get to stay in California and will give the Sparks a two-way player.

“When they called my name, a huge wave of emotions hit me,” Brink said. “I saw my mom tearing up and my dad and it hit home.”

A prolific scorer, Brink was also the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. The Sparks needed to replace franchise player Nneka Ogwumike, who left for Seattle in free agency. Brink’s godmother, Sonya Curry, is the mother of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry.

“I FaceTimed Steph five minutes before the show started and he said have fun with it,” Brink said. “He can share so much great advice since he’s been through this. Make stuff like this fun as it can be stressed.”

Chicago had the third pick and chose South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso before the Sparks were on the clock again and selected Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson.

Cardoso had a busy week, helping the Gamecocks win the national championship to complete an undefeated season. She took part in the team’s championship parade on Sunday before travelling to New York.

Dallas took Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon with the fifth pick. Chicago took LSU’s Angel Reese at No. 7, pairing her with Cardoso.

“She’s a great player and I’m a great player. Nobody’s going to get no rebounds on us,” the 6-foot-7 Cardoso said, laughing.

Minnesota, which had swapped picks with Chicago, drafted Alissa Pili of Utah eighth.

A pair of French guards, Carla Leite and Leila Lacan, went next to Dallas and Connecticut, respectively.

New York drafted Ole Miss’ Marquesha Davis at No. 11 and Atlanta closed out the first round by taking Australian Nyadiew Puoch.

WATCH | Cardoso, South Carolina beat Clark, Iowa in national championship:

South Carolina caps undefeated NCAA season with victory over Iowa, Caitlin Clark

Women’s college basketball reached new popularity this March Madness. Record-smashing star Caitlin Clark dominated headlines — even as her Iowa squad lost to undefeated South Carolina in the national championship game — and the sport made millions of new fans.

Latest on expansion

Meanwhile, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said she hopes to have 16 teams in the league by 2028, up from the current 12. The WNBA is adding a team next year, when a Golden State franchise in San Francisco will join the league.

Other cities or metropolitan areas that Engelbert said are in the running include Philadelphia; Toronto; Portland, Ore.; Denver; Nashville; and South Florida.

CBC Sports’ Shireen Ahmed reported in March that MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum is seeking a WNBA expansion team through an individual holding company, with an announcement possible as soon as May.

“Our plan and goal is to get to 16 teams in the next few years,” she said.

Engelbert said she got calls last week from two other cities the league hadn’t been talking to.

Golden State will get a chance to built its roster through an expansion draft.

“It will happen before the college draft and we’ll share more details when we get closer to that,” Engelbert said. “Talking to general managers and coaches and teams and owners, there will be an expansion draft this year and it will probably be in December.”

Engelbert also said the league will once again pay for charter flights for the entire playoffs as well as for back-to-back games during the upcoming season that require air travel.

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