Women's College Basketball
Does Caitlin Clark need a national title to be crowned the GOAT of women's hoops?
Women's College Basketball

Does Caitlin Clark need a national title to be crowned the GOAT of women's hoops?

Updated Apr. 5, 2024 3:59 p.m. ET

FOX Sports play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson referred to her as "a perfect example of the evolution of the game of basketball."

Colin Cowherd, host of "The Herd," said the game of basketball is "effortless" for her, and described her as "a walking highlight."

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma took it one step further, referring to her this week as "the best player of all time."

Whatever your thoughts are on Iowa standout Caitlin Clark, or wherever you rank her among the all-time players in the women's game, there is simply no denying her greatness. She has single-handedly captured the imagination of a nation, and has taken the game of women's basketball to new heights — evident by her 41-point, 12-assist performance in Iowa's memorable 94-87 Elite Eight win over LSU on Monday night, which drew 12.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched women's college basketball game in history.


['The job's not finished': Caitlin Clark leads Iowa past LSU, into the Final Four]

This season alone, Clark has re-written college basketball's record books. Back on Feb. 15, Clark broke the record for the most points in Division I women's basketball history, passing Kelsey Plum's mark. Then, 17 days later, the Hawkeyes' superstar broke Pete Maravich's long-standing record of 3,667 points to become the all-time leading scorer in men's and women's Division I basketball history. 

Not only has Clark scored the most points in NCAA college basketball history, she's also the first player ever — men's or women's — to compile 3,000 points, 1,000 assists and 850 rebounds in a career. 

So, as Clark and the Hawkeyes get set to take on Paige Bueckers and the UConn Huskies in what some have labeled the most highly anticipated Final Four matchup in women's college basketball history, the following question has received an enormous amount of attention this week leading into Friday night's showdown:

Does Clark need to win a national championship in order to solidify her spot as the greatest women's college basketball player of all time?

While there isn't an absolute, clear-cut answer, who better to pose that question to than those who have spent time around Clark throughout her memorable collegiate career?

We asked several FOX Sports personalities who have followed Clark along her journey to chime in on the GOAT debate. Here's what we got:

Caitlin Clark proved she is 'unstoppable' in Elite Eight Win vs. LSU

Laken Litman, FOX Sports college basketball writer

Clark is the greatest offensive player we've ever seen in women's college basketball, hands down. Sure, we know all about her scoring and the records she has smashed and the brilliant players she passed along the way — you know, like Pete Maravich, Kelsey Plum and Brittney Griner, to name a few. She has endless range and her ability to pull up from the logo is truly exhilarating. But it's her passing that makes Clark a complete offensive superstar. To watch her launch a pass or find a teammate with some nifty behind-the-back move is mesmerizing, especially in person.

Clark has so many awards and accolades and trophies, including now becoming a two-time Naismith Player of the Year. She will become the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft on April 15. Most of all, she transformed women's sports in a way nobody has before, selling out arenas, appearing in TV commercials and being the jersey everybody wants to wear. She's done all this while taking Iowa to back-to-back Final Fours, and could very well lead the Hawkeyes to the program's first national championship on Sunday. However, whether she does the latter or not, Clark will still go down as the greatest.

John Fanta, FOX Sports college basketball broadcaster and reporter

There's greatness, then there is what Clark is doing. The numbers know no limits, and when you combine that with her presence on the court, she is truly extraordinary. Not only is she the all-time leading scorer in college basketball history, but she is also a winner.

Clark does all of it. She makes her teammates better and has a package of aggressiveness and selfless nature that resonates with Iowa's culture. What she has done for this sport, with the humility she displays, has been one of the greatest victories for women's basketball in the sport's history. 

Lisa Byington, FOX Sports play-by-play announcer and reporter

I can remember covering Clark's first college games on TV, and Lisa Bluder would tell us, ‘We have to get used to the way she plays, and the shots she takes.' Looking back, we all had to get used to it – from teammates, to coaches, to broadcasters, and fans – but by her not changing who she was, she allowed so many of us to change the way we viewed women's sports. 

Clark's rise has eliminated the divide between men's and women's basketball fans, and created just ‘basketball fans,' and among all the records she has set, that is also her legacy.

Christy Winters Scott, FOX Sports college basketball analyst

I do not feel that Clark needs to win a ring to solidify her legacy as a WINNER. She has met every single defining moment with a fiercely-focused approach, and her legacy will be based on her ability to galvanize the entire sports world and beyond. 

There are several aspects to the unique qualities that Clark exemplifies. She not only understands why she embraces her role as a leader, but she also understands how to seamlessly serve the next generation of dreamers with joy, exuberance, and passion. Her servant mentality has planted seeds of success for many, including myself.

Sarah Kustok, FOX Sports college basketball analyst

What impresses me most isn't the unlimited range, precision passing, and seemingly endless list of records on her résumé — it's how Clark has handled the explosion of attention. She has delivered time and time again in the brightest lights with moxie, grace, and an undeniable joy for the game. It's been legendary in how she has changed the trajectory and place of women's basketball.

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Kim Adams, FOX Sports college basketball analyst

I don't think a national championship is needed for Caitlin to cement any sort of legacy of being one of the greatest to ever play the college game. So much has to align perfectly for a team to be the last standing in April. And so much of it has to do with the overall talent level of the team. With no disrespect to her teammates, Caitlin did something different when she decided to stay in her home state and become a Hawkeye. She is not on a team with multiple McDonald's All-Americans like others in the Final Four. 

I think for Caitlin, winning a national championship would be a final box checked off and a magical ending to a storybook script, one that she would love to celebrate with her coaches, teammates and family. It would be a dream realized. But I don't get the sense that she feels any pressure to achieve this or that she has anything left to prove at the college level.

Meghan McKeown, Big Ten Network college basketball analyst

Cailtin Clark is the most exciting women's college basketball player of all time. Her ability to hit logo shots, accurately pass with pizazz, and see the floor makes her so unique as a player. I don't necessarily think you need to win a national championship to be considered the greatest of all time. Winning college titles is completely different than winning professional titles. You have to go through more teams in single-elimination fashion to get to a championship.

The players in consideration for "greatest women's basketball player of all time" likely had multiple All-Americans on their team to help win a title. Clark has now gone to back-to-back Final Fours with a roster that does not include multiple All-Americans. Her sole impact on Iowa over the course of her career certainly makes her a top candidate for greatest women's basketball player of all time.


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