Iowa Hawkeyes star Caitlin Clark repeats as Naismith Player of the Year

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This year has featured record-breaking numbers in viewership and a remarkable surge in support for women’s basketball. Amid it all, Caitlin Clark and Cameron Brink, along with head coach Dawn Staley, were recognized by the Atlanta Tipoff Club for their accomplishments this season.

During the press conference in Cleveland on Wednesday, the Iowa superstar was once again pronounced the winner of the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy, while South Carolina‘s Dawn Staley was named the 2024 Werner Ladder Women’s Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year and the fourth time in the last five years. Additionally, Stanford‘s Cameron Brink earned the Naismith’s Women’s Defensive Player of the Year award following her remarkable senior season.

“The Naismith Awards symbolize the highest level of excellence in collegiate basketball. I extend our congratulations to Caitlin, Dawn, and Cameron for these well-deserved honors,” said Eric Oberman, President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Their continued outstanding performances throughout the years and this season are truly remarkable, and we take great pride in acknowledging their extraordinary achievements.”

With the recent honor, Clark became the eighth women’s player to win the award in consecutive seasons and the 10th overall to earn the award multiple times. It also marked the third time in the last six seasons that an Iowa player has won the award, as Megan Gustafson was named the winner in 2019. Iowa coach Lisa Bluder won that season’s Werner Ladder Coach of the Year award and was also a finalist for this year’s award alongside Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (the sport’s winningest coach) and Southern California‘s Lindsay Gottlieb.

“To be a two-time recipient of the Naismith Trophy is truly humbling,” said Clark upon receiving the award. “Being selected as this season’s honoree is truly special with the number of talented and skilled players across the country. I want thank my family, coaches, and teammates who helped me get to this point.”

Clark’s national Player of the Year recognition comes in the middle of her remarkable senior campaign that is still in motion. The three-time Big Ten Player of the Year has led Iowa to three consecutive conference championships for the first time in program history en route to back-to-back Final Four appearances. While becoming the NCAA all-time leading scorer earlier this season with 3,900 points heading into the weekend, Clark also leads the nation in scoring (32.0) and assists (9.0) per game and enters the Final Four with an NCAA single-season scoring record of 1,183 points.

“On behalf of Jersey Mike’s, I congratulate Caitlin for her well-deserved acknowledgment as the 2024 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Women’s Player of the Year,” said Jeff Hemschoot, Jersey Mike’s Vice President of Marketing, during the press conference on Wednesday. “Her performance throughout the season has captivated audiences, and her triumph among such formidable finalists underscores the exceptional caliber of her basketball prowess and the remarkable nature of her season.”

Meanwhile, Dawn Staley became the first coach in award history to win the Werner Ladder Women’s Coach of the Year in three consecutive seasons. Staley, who was named SEC Coach of the Year for the seventh time in her career, led the Gamecocks into the Final Four undefeated for the second consecutive season.

“Being named the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year is always an honor and always the work of every coach, every person on our staff,” said Staley during the press conference. “When we first brought this team together last summer, I don’t think any of our staff would have predicted the position this particular group of young women have put us in this week. But we all stuck with it; we adapted to what our players were capable of at each step in their development. And the result has been one of the most fun seasons I’ve had in my coaching career, and I credit our players for that, for showing us that there’s more than one path toward a goal.”

“Werner takes pride in acknowledging Coach Staley’s exceptional achievements, presenting her with the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award for the fourth time in five years,” said Stacy Gardella, Head of Global Marketing Technology & Operations at WernerCo. “Her consistent excellence mirrors her exceptional coaching expertise. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to her and all the distinguished finalists for their outstanding seasons.”

In being named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, Cameron Brink became the first Cardinal in program history to win the prestigious award. The Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year led the nation in blocks (3.6 bpg) and is third in rebounding at 11.9 per game. According to the press release, she also became the first college player with 500 points, 300 rebounds and 100 blocks in consecutive seasons since Breanna Stewart did so from 2014-16.

“It’s an incredible honor to be named the 2024 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year,” said Brink. “It may be an individual award, but it’s a testament to all the people who have poured into me, not only this season but throughout my career at Stanford – my family, coaches, teammates, and friends. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and I am extremely grateful for all their love and support.”

While the Naismith Awards serve as a chance to recognize and commend the achievements of the concurrent season, this year’s action in women’s college basketball isn’t over just yet. Dawn Staley is seeking her third national title with South Carolina as the team heads into its Final Four game against North Carolina State on Friday. Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, Clark and the Hawkeyes are making back-to-back trips to the Final Four with hopes of avenging their loss to LSU in the championship game last year. But first, Iowa will have to get through UConn and Paige Bueckers, who was also a finalist for the 2024 Naismith Player of the Year Award.

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Caitlin Clark

Iowa Hawkeyes

Women’s College Basketball

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