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Meet Caitlin Clark, the college basketball superstar being compared to Steph Curry

The University of Iowa guard has gone viral for her dazzling play, which includes hitting three-pointers from the half-court logo.
NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament - Seattle Regional
Caitlin Clark has shown incredible shooting range on the court while leading Iowa to the Final Four of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. C. Morgan Engel / NCAA Photos via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

It’s not too late to hop on the Caitlin Clark bandwagon.

Her highlight reels show just how sensational she's been for the University of Iowa this season: dribbling down the court and draining looooong three-pointers from the half-court logo, crossing up defenders and going to the rim, no-look passes, rebounds and steals.

Her heroic efforts have landed the Hawkeyes in the Final Four for the first time in 30 years. The school's next game is Friday, March 31, a showdown against the reigning champions, the University of South Carolina, the team former President Barack Obama picked to repeat.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark celebrates after win against Louisville in the Elite 8
Caitlin Clark celebrating Iowa's 97-83 win over Louisville in the Elite 8 on March 26.Caean Couto / AP

The junior guard tells that she and her team are ready. They have prepared all season with one goal in mind: Win. It. All.

"We're not done," she says. "We're going to go in there with the mentality of going 1-0 every single time we take the court. It's not any different than the first game that we played at the beginning of the season. Sure, the stage is probably bigger. Yes, there's more cameras, but we don't have to be anything other than what we've been all year."

'You can't see' Caitlin

Clark is averaging 27.3 points per game this season, the third-most in all of Division I women's college basketball, and is part of a starting lineup that also includes Monika Czinano, Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and McKenna Warnock.

Iowa advanced to the Final Four with a win over the University of Louisville on March 26, with Clark tallying 41 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and three steals, marking the first time in the men's or women's NCAA Tournament that a player has notched a 40-point triple-double. In the game before that, against the University of Colorado, she had 31 points and 8 assists.

"It comes from our early exit last year," the college superstar says about her remarkably consistent high-level play, referring to how Creighton University ousted Iowa from the NCAA Tournament last year in the second round.

"Losing to Creighton put a fire under our belt," she says. "We were lucky enough to have all five starters coming back on and a lot of teams don't get to have that for three years, so I think that was pretty special."

After her sixth three-pointer against Louisville in the March 26 game, the sharpshooter celebrated by doing the "you can't see me" hand gesture, waving her hand in front of her face. The moment went viral on Twitter, and it even caught the attention of John Cena, who made the gesture famous during his WWE days.

“Even if they could see you…they couldn’t guard you!” he tweeted to her.

Clark tells what prompted the gesture.

"I actually looked at our player development coach and I was like, 'I'm not fazed. I'm locked in.' That's what I said. So I was just, more than anything, locked in. And I looked right at her."

Caitlin Clark in Iowa's Elite 8 game against Louisville
Clark recorded a historic triple-double in her team's win over Louisville.Stephen Brashear / AP

She says the gesture was an extension of how she felt before the game.

"I had a calmness about me before that game started," she describes. "I had a really good feeling that it was going to be a really good game for us. I thought that's exactly what we did, especially when we got off to kind of a little bit of a rough start, we responded really well."

She says bouncing back was thanks to the experience of the core group having played together for the last three years.

"Nothing really frazzles us and all we could do is respond and that's exactly what we did," she said of their game plan.

The Big Ten player of the year and 2023 Naismith player of the year winner says "this whole team has just found a lot of confidence in one another and that's what has carried us to this point."

"We're not always the most athletic or the fastest or can jump the highest, but we just play for one another and have a love for one another that carries us really far."

The work that goes into her long 3s

Clark says she is not just haphazardly attempting shots from beyond the three-point line and hoping they go in. Even Steph Curry described her long shots as a strategic decision that defenses have trouble guarding.

"Those are shots that I work on all the time when I'm in the gym," she says. "That's just the biggest thing. It's not like I just get into games and just start chucking them up. When I'm in the gym working, those are shots that I'm taking."

She also said getting stronger over the course of her career means she's able to extend her range. Her coaches and teammates see that and have given her freedom to shoot as she sees fit.

"The biggest thing is the more I back up, my form doesn't change," she said. "My shot mechanics don't change and if they did, I wouldn't be allowed to shoot those and I probably wouldn't make them."

After putting in the hard work during practice and games, there are certain ways she likes to unwind.

"It's something weird about me. Like, I can't eat right after a game, so I just try to drink as much liquid as I can, relax, hopefully have a massage. Those are my favorite things to do. And then, obviously, sleep. Come on now, that's the best part," she said, laughing.

'Steph Curry of women’s college basketball'

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith recently called Clark the "Steph Curry of women's college basketball." Curry himself has explained to ESPN why she's an excellent shooter.

Clark, who will be eligible for the WNBA Draft in 2024, shies away from comparisons to the Golden State Warriors superstar.

"Oh, man, I do not think I'm in the same category as him," she says, adding that though she's aware of what he's said about her, they haven't spoken yet.

"(To have) somebody I grew up watching, and still idolize, take time to watch your game, and then comments on you, is pretty special and kind of takes you back for a second," she says.

She rattles off some of his attributes as a player (rarely dunks, finishes around the rim, plays off the dribble) and says: "Those are a lot of the skills that I want to have, too."

Caitlin Clark and Iowa coach Lisa Bluder
Clark with her head coach, Lisa Bluder.Stephen Brashear / AP

'Helping the game grow'

Clark has been one of the faces of women's college basketball during a watershed time for the sport.

It was only last year that the sport was allowed to use the term "March Madness" for its postseason play, a moniker that has been used in men's college basketball since 1982.

During the 2021 NCAA tournaments, women's basketball players and staff posted to social media pictures of their weight rooms compared to the men's, exposing stark differences in what was available at each tournament. The NCAA originally said it was due in part to spacing constraints but later apologized and upgraded the women's weight rooms.

In addition, viewership for the women's game has been on the rise. The 2022 women’s tournament overall averaged 634,000 viewers per game, a 16% increase from 2021, according to a recent Associated Press story. Regular-season games on ESPN during the 2022-2023 season averaged over 190,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed regular season since 2015.

"The biggest thing is just helping the game grow," Clark says. "Our game has grown tremendously just over the past few years and it needed to because things weren’t equal. I think the product that we can produce at the women’s college level, but also at the professional level, is pretty tremendous."

She said the challenge is getting naysayers to give women's basketball a chance.

Caitlin Clark cuts the net after Iowa's Elite 8 win over Louisville
Caitlin Clark cutting the net after advancing to the Final Four.Alika Jenner / Getty Images

"It's just having the opportunities and getting people in the seats, and getting people to turn on the TV," she says. "Once they see the product, they keep coming back for more."

She says her team and other championship contenders are proof of that.

"Our team is doing a tremendous job of giving people joy and a reason to turn on the TV and watch women's basketball," she says.

'We’ve had a belief that we could be here' spoke to Clark just hours before South Carolina defeated the University of Maryland on March 27 to clinch its spot in the Final Four against Iowa. The tournament's championship game will be played April 2.

The three-pointer connoisseur gave props to South Carolina for being "such a tremendous" team with a head coach, Dawn Staley, who is "one of the greatest ever."

Maryland v South Carolina
Clark and Iowa will face Zia Cooke and South Carolina on March 31. Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

"We're going to have to play a really, really good game (and) we're going to have to shoot the ball really well," she says. "But I don't even think it's playing with a chip on our shoulder. I think it's just having a confidence about ourselves. That's what we've been playing with this whole tournament.

"We've had a belief that we could be here and be in the Final Four playing against the best because we believe we're right there with them," she says.

Throughout the month of March, is celebrating women across generations who have made history and continue to move the conversation forward by breaking stigmas, sparking dialogue and inspiring the next generation.