Thursday, June 20, 2024

Caitlin Clark on top of USA alternates list after Olympics snub

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Caitlin Clark’s Olympics dream might not be out of reach for the 2024 Paris Games.

The Indiana Fever rookie, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the this year’s WNBA draft, was not included on USA Basketball’s 12-woman roster for the Olympics, multiple reports confirmed on Saturday.

However, Clark, along with the Connecticut Sun’s Brionna Jones — the WNBA Sixth Player of the Year in 2022 — are on top of the alternates list, should Team USA need a replacement, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Monday.

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever handles the ball in the first quarter against Karlie Samuelson #44 of the Washington Mystics at Capital One Arena on June 7, 2024 in Washington, DC. Getty Images
Head coach Christie Sides and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever celebrate after a 85-83 victory against the Washington Mystics at Capital One Arena on June 7, 2024 in Washington, DC. Getty Images

The leaked roster features former WNBA MVPs, future Hall of Famers and All-Stars including Diana Taurasi (Mercury), A’ja Wilson (Aces), Breanna Stewart (Liberty), Alyssa Thomas (Sun), Jewell Loyd (Storm), Napheesa Collier (Lynx), Kelsey Plum (Aces), Jackie Young (Aces), Brittney Griner (Mercury), Kahleah Copper (Mercury), Sabrina Ionescu (Liberty), and Chelsea Gray (Aces).

USA Basketball has not yet announced the 12-player roster for the upcoming Olympics, which will begin on July 26 and run through August 11.

Clark — who became the NCAA’s Division I all-time leading scorer for men and women during her senior year at Iowa — was the only collegiate athlete invited to the Team USA 14-player training camp in April.

The 22-year-old point guard missed the final camp before the summer Olympics as she and the Hawkeyes advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament, with Iowa ultimately coming up short against South Carolina in the national championship game.

Clark mentioned that while taking questions from reporters during practice Sunday.

“I didn’t have time to go to a training camp and obviously it was a quick turnaround to come here [to Indiana],” Clark said. “So it’s good motivation for us and we all know how talented that team is.”

Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark greets fans after scoring a career high 30 points in win over Washington Mystics on June 7, 2024. NAB Productions / SplashNews.com

Clark explained that it would be a “great opportunity” if Team USA were to call her if they needed a replacement.

“I think it would be a great opportunity, a lot of ‘ifs,” she said, smiling. “My main focus is on the Fever, like that’s what it is. If USA Basketball needs something, you know, I have a great relationship with them but the 12 they have selected are really. really great players.”

Fever head coach Christie Sides said Clark received the news that she would not be on the Olympic team on Friday.

“The thing she said was, ‘Hey, Coach, they woke a monster,’ which I thought was awesome,” Sides said. “She’s young, she’s going to have so many opportunities in the future.”

Clark explained that she wasn’t disappointed when USA basketball officials called to inform her of the news.

Caitlin Clark (22) in action for the Fever on May 18, 2024. AP

“They called me and let me know before everything came out, which was really respectful of them, and I appreciated that,” Clark said of USA Basketball. “They did the same for every girl that made the team or every girl that didn’t make the team. There was a lot of players in the Olympic pool, it’s not like I was the only one they had to call. They had to make quite a few calls.”

Clark went on to praise the fellow WNBA players who will represent Team USA at this summer’s Paris Games.

“I’m excited for the girls that are on the team,” Clark said. “I know it’s the most competitive team in the world and I know it could have gone either way of me being on the team, me not being on the team. I’m excited for them, gonna be rooting them on to win gold. I was a kid who grew up watching the Olympics, so it’ll be fun to watch them. 

“I think it just gives you something to work for. It’s a dream, hopefully one day I can be there and I think it’s just a little more motivation. You remember that and hopefully in four years I can be there.”

Clark is averaging 16.8 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds in her rookie season.

Clark and the Fever (3-9) face Jones and the Sun (9-1) in Connecticut on Monday.

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