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Why Clark isn’t participating for UConn.

 

Caitlin Clark was raised in West Des Moines, Iowa, yet she admired Connecticut women’s basketball.

 

She aspired to join the team led by the legendary Coach Geno Auriemma, who has guided the Huskies to a remarkable 11 national championships.

 

Despite being a standout player at Downing Catholic High, Clark received recruitment offers from nearly every major college program in the nation, except for one notable omission — UConn.

“They called my AAU coach a few times, but they never spoke to my family and never reached out to me,” Clark revealed to ESPN.

 

Instead, Clark spent the last four seasons at Iowa, where she gained widespread recognition and became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I basketball.

 

This Friday, she and the Hawkeyes will compete in their second consecutive FinalFour, going head-to-head against none other than Auriemma and the Huskies in the national semifinals.

While addressing reporters on Tuesday, Auriemma was questioned about Connecticut’s apparent disinterest in recruiting Clark during her high school years.

 

“Well, there are many players we didn’t pursue, and there are also many who simply didn’t see themselves at UConn,” Auriemma responded. “I made an early commitment to Paige Bueckers, so it wouldn’t have made sense for me to tell Paige, ‘Hey, I’m going to make a big effort to recruit Caitlin Clark.’ That’s not my approach.”

Moreover, Auriemma pointed out that communication is a two-way street.

 

“If Caitlin truly desired to join UConn, she could have reached out to me and expressed her interest,” he remarked.

 

This narrative is likely to be discussed during ESPN’s broadcast of Friday’s game — a broadcast that has the potential to rewrite the record books, at least momentarily. Iowa’s victory over Louisiana State in the Elite Eight matchup on Monday garnered an average of 12.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched women’s college basketball game of all time (surpassing the 11.84 million viewers who tuned in for the USC-Louisiana Tech national championship game in 1983).

The only men’s NCAA Tournament game with higher ratings this year was Sunday’s North Carolina State-Duke game on CBS, which averaged 15.1 million viewers.

 

Moreover, Iowa’s matchup against LSU marked ESPN’s most-viewed college basketball game ever, regardless of gender. Following that, Connecticut’s Elite Eight triumph over USC later that night became the network’s second-most-watched college basketball game, attracting an average of 6.7 million viewers.

For perspective, last year’s Kentucky Derby attracted an average of 14.7 million viewers, the deciding game of the NBA Finals drew in 13.1 million, the final round of the Masters had 12.1 million, and the deciding game of the World Series garnered 11.5 million.

 

All of this sets the stage for potentially more ratings history with the women’s Final Four games — particularly significant as one of these games will mark the final college appearance for Clark, who is destined for the WNBA. Despite receiving the cold shoulder from her dream school years ago, Clark doesn’t appear to be holding a grudge.

“Honestly, it was more about wanting them to recruit me so I could say I was recruited,” Clark shared with ESPN. “I adored UConn. I think they’re the coolest place on Earth, and I wanted to be able to say I was recruited by them.”

 

There don’t appear to be any hard feelings on the Huskies’ side either.

 

“I don’t believe either side lost out,” Auriemma remarked on Tuesday. “I think she made the best decision for herself, and it’s turned out great. We made the decision we felt was right for us. There are countless high school players out there that we evaluate, thousands of them.

 

“We can’t recruit them all. Some programs try to recruit every single one. That’s not our approach. We focus on identifying who fits with our team and making early connections. That’s what happened with us and Paige. We felt very confident in that decision, and we stuck with it.”

Written by schooleiwa

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