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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Chapter Officially Opens as No. 1 Overall Pick

  • The Indiana Fever saw ticket prices soar weeks before drafting her.
  • Clark set numerous Division I records over her four-year career and is the NCAA’s all-time scorer for men’s or women’s basketball.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN — Caitlin Clark is officially heading to Indiana. 

On Monday, the Fever made the least climatic decision in the history of the WNBA by selecting the Iowa phenom first overall in the league’s 2024 draft. Clark and the Fever had been considered a lock since the team secured the first overall draft pick in December’s lottery. 

The league, along with its fans and teams, have long been expecting Clark’s selection. Ticket prices for Fever road games have spiked on the secondary market since their release and the team will play a league-leading 36 games on national television this coming season. 

For Clark, the selection officially turns a page on a college career that turned her into a national sensation, breaking records, TV ratings and ticket prices along the way. Clark reminded the country of her star power on Saturday by making a cameo appearance during the Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live, where she made fun of co-anchor Michael Che for his long-standing mocking of the WNBA and women’s sports. 

Clark’s arrival into the WNBA is being met with equal parts excitement and curiosity. She took the women’s college game supersonic, and it’s natural to wonder exactly what she’ll do for the league. There’s no question that her presence will give the WNBA a serious boost in ratings and attendance, but it will be hard to duplicate the effect she had on the college ranks.

Clark’s impact on the WNBA was already on display Monday night. The draft took place at Brooklyn Academy of Music, just a couple blocks from Barclays Center, and marked the league’s first draft with fans since 2016. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said tickets sold out in under 30 minutes. Dozens of fans flanked both sides of the theater’s Fulton Street entrance with a bus carrying the draft invitees dividing them. Each arrival drew its own set of cheers as fans of all ages showed up more than three hours early. 

“I think all the women here are really great for the game and will be great for the visibility of the WNBA and for women’s sports in general,” says Brianne Schoonover, a WNBA fan and Iowa native who played high school basketball and lives in New York. Schoonover was outside BAM three hours before the draft donning an Iowa Hawkeyes zip-up.

Clark’s preseason debut with the Fever will come on May 3 against the Dallas Wings while her first professional game will be at the Connecticut Sun on May 14. 

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