Caitlin Clark named Naismith National Player of the Year for back-to-back honor


Iowa guard Caitlin Clark reacts to the crowd before cutting a piece of the net after Iowa defeated LSU in an Elite Eight round college basketball game during the NCAA Tournament, Monday, April 1, 2024, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark is racking up accolades. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark was named the 2024 Naismith National Player of the Year on Wednesday, securing the honor for the second consecutive season.

She was presented the award at Key Bank Club in the Cleveland Browns Stadium. Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder, who was a finalist for Coach of the Year, sat in the audience along with most of Clark’s teammates.

Voters chose Clark over Stanford senior Cameron Brink USC freshman JuJu Watkins and UConn’s Paige Bueckers. Brink was also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, which she won.

Clark, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA basketball history, seemed to be the leading candidate for the award all year. She secured the scoring record earlier this season, which also saw her average career numbers of 32 points, 9.0 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.

She’s the first player to go back-to-back for the award since UConn’s Breanna Stewart in 2014-16. Only seven players before Clark have won the award in consecutive seasons and she is just the 10th women’s basketball player to earn the award multiple times.

Last year, Clark won the award over 2023 Final Four opponent Aliyah Boston, who was the best player on an undefeated South Carolina team. Boston went on to be selected with the Indiana Fever’s No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft. Indiana has the first pick again this year, which will likely unite Boston and Clark as professionals.

Before her career begins in the pros, Clark will look to lead Iowa to back-to-back NCAA tournament championship game appearances.

She and the Hawkeyes will face UConn in the Final Four on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Dawn Staley wins Naismith COTY for 3rd-straight season

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley’s dominance continued Wednesday as she was named the Naismith National Coach of the Year for the third straight season.

It’s the first three-peat in the award’s history and her fourth in the last five seasons.

Staley earned the accolade after leading the Gamecocks to a 36-0 record and the Final Four for the second-straight campaign. She prevented South Carolina from a daunting rebuild phase, winning every game this season with a brand new starting five since each 2023 starter was drafted.

Senior center Kamilla Cardoso is the latest starter that will leave South Carolina for the draft, and she was a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. She had already been named SEC DPOY and WBCA DPOY prior to Wednesday’s ceremony.

Cardoso, Staley and South Carolina will face NC State in the Final Four on Friday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).



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