Caitlin Clark Defeats ‘Dream School,’ Whose Coach Never Offered Her a Scholarship

Caitlin Clark Defeats ‘Dream School,’ Whose Coach Never Offered Her a Scholarship

When University of Iowa point guard Caitlin Clark was being recruited by colleges in 2020, her “dream school” was the University of Connecticut, where coach Geno Auriemma is a living legend.

Auriemma wasn’t interested. History played out differently. And now, thanks to a 21-point performance plus a fortuitous call in the final seconds, Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes have sent Auriemma’s UConn Huskies after the most eagerly anticipated women’s college Final Four game of all time, 71-69, on Friday night.

The game was a back-and-forth affair — but, as the New York Post pointed out, UConn had a chance to win trailing 70-69 with less than 10 seconds left after forcing back-to-back turnovers from the Hawkeyes.

However, UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards was called for an illegal screen on a play designed to get UConn star Paige Bueckers open.

The Huskies were forced to foul Clark to stop the clock; she hit one of two free throws and UConn was unable to do anything else offensively. Iowa’s Sydney Affolter forced a tie-up on the rebound off of Clark’s second shot; with the possession arrow in Iowa’s favor, they got the ball back and were able to run out the clock, sending the Hawkeyes to the national championship against the undefeated University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

“Going to the national championship game, everybody’s stepping up,” Clark said after the win, according to Yahoo Sports.

“It’s not just me. It’s not just one player. That’s not what this is. We wouldn’t be at this point right now if it was just one player. And everybody comes up and makes really big plays when we need them.”

Auriemma, meanwhile, came away thinking that his team could have won the matchup judging by the numbers they put up.

“If you had given me the stat sheet without the final score before the game, I would have said we won the game,” he told reporters.

But the question is — why didn’t Auriemma have Clark on his team in the first place?

Consider a March 20 ESPN profile on Clark, in which she said her “dream school was, like everyone else, UConn.”

“Letters from college coaches stacked up at her house in those days. Her parents kept them from her until late in the process, trying instinctively to protect as much of her childhood as they could,” ESPN’s Wright Thompson reported.

But what about the Huskies? Kristin Meyer, head coach at Clark’s high school alma mater — Dowling Catholic in West Des Moines, Iowa — revealed that Auriemma wasn’t interested.

“Dowling’s open gyms filled with the best of the best coaches in the country. One absence was conspicuous, though,” Thompson reported.

“Geno never came,” Meyer said.

Whoops.

Auriemma, meanwhile, said he was happy with Bueckers as the leader in the backcourt — and told CT Insider that, hey, she could have always called him.

“Well, there’s a lot of kids we didn’t recruit and there’s a lot of kids who don’t want to go to UConn,” Auriemma told the outlet earlier this week. “I committed to Paige Bueckers very, very early and it would have been silly for me to say to Paige, ‘Hey listen, we’re going to put you in the backcourt and then I’m going to try really hard to recruit Caitlin Clark.’ I don’t do it that way.

“Caitlin is obviously a tremendous player, a generational player. But if Caitlin really wanted to come to UConn she would have called me and said, ‘Coach I really want to come to UConn.’ Neither of us lost out. She made the best decision for her and it’s worked out great. We made the decision we thought we needed to make.”

Now, Auriemma has only himself to blame. Well, him and the refs who made the call on Edwards, to hear him talk about it.

“There’s probably an illegal screen call that you could make on every single possession. I just know that there were three or four of them called on us and I don’t think there were any called on them,” he said after the game.

And, to be fair, things have worked out for Clark at Iowa, too — clearly, given that she’s unarguably the most famous collegiate athlete in America at the moment.

As ESPN’s Thompson noted in his piece: “Do you remember when you first started on the road to your dreams? That’s where Caitlin Clark finds herself in March 2024. She has announced her intention to enter the WNBA draft. Her future has begun, the world she built during four life-changing years in Iowa City. All the things she wants to be are there to be grasped.

“Her games draw bigger audiences than many NBA games. She is at the epicenter of sports — a superstar without caveats or adjectives. She isn’t important because of symbolic broken barriers but because she steps onto a 94-foot-long rectangle and dominates it. In the month after her birthday, Caitlin Clark kept rising to the occasion.”

And in the end, she even rose above her “dream school.” Eat that, Geno.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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