Iowa’s Caitlin Clark focused on Sweet 16, deflects Big3 talk

ALBANY, N.Y. — Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark doesn’t have the potential of a $5 million offer on her mind. Her thoughts are only on the Hawkeyes and their upcoming Sweet 16 opponent, Colorado.

Clark’s Hawkeyes are the No. 1 seed in the Albany 2 Region, and face the No. 5 seed Buffaloes at MVP Arena on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Iowa is hoping to make the Final Four for the second year in a row.

Wednesday, Ice Cube confirmed via social media that Clark had been offered $5 million to play in his Big3 league. Friday at Iowa’s news conference, Clark was asked about it.

“I found out about the Big3 thing the same exact time you all did,” Clark said of the release of that information on social media. “I honestly don’t talk about those things with really anybody. I have other people that deal with it, and they haven’t said a word to me about it. My main focus is on this team and helping us find a way to beat Colorado and hopefully win another one after that.”

Ice Cube wrote on social media site X on Wednesday, “We intended the offer to remain private while Caitlin Clark plays for the championship. But I won’t deny what’s now already out there: BIG3 made a historic offer to Caitlin Clark. Why wouldn’t we? Caitlin is a generational athlete who can achieve tremendous success in the BIG3.

“The skeptics laughed when we made Nancy Lieberman the first female coach of a men’s pro team, and she won the championship in her first year. Then Lisa Leslie won it all in year two. With our offer, Caitlin Clark can make history and break down even more barriers for women athletes.”

The WNBA has prioritization rules in its collective bargaining agreement, which can affect some players who participate in overseas leagues. But it remains to be seen whether those would prevent Clark’s Big3 participation — if she is even interested.

The WNBA had no comment on Clark and the Big3 league earlier this week, but a spokesperson said: “Caitlin Clark stands to make a half million dollars or more in WNBA earnings this coming season, in addition to what she will receive through endorsements and other partnerships, which has been reported to already exceed $3 million.” The WNBA’s figure includes the money Clark could make in a marketing agreement with the league, but that is not guaranteed. Clark, who leads Division I in scoring, assists and 3-pointers, is expected to be the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick on April 15 by the Indiana Fever. WNBA rookie salaries for lottery draft picks (Nos. 1 through 4) in 2024 are $76,535 and climb to $97,582 by their fourth season.

Clark already has an endorsement portfolio with companies such as Nike, State Farm, Gatorade and Gainbridge, which has naming rights for the arena in Indianapolis where the WNBA’s Fever and NBA’s Pacers play.

The Iowa senior guard also was asked about being invited Thursday to the USA Basketball Olympic training camp April 3-5 in Cleveland. If the Hawkeyes advance to the women’s Final Four, she won’t be able to attend the camp.

“USA Basketball, that’s your dream. You want to grow up and be on the Olympic team,” Clark said Friday. “I want to be at the Final Four playing basketball with my team, but if not, that’s where I’ll be. People who are on the [training camp] roster are people that I idolize. Just to be extended a camp invite is something you have to be proud of, celebrate and enjoy.

No dates have been announced for when the women’s U.S. Olympic 5-on-5 and 3×3 teams will be named for the Paris Games, which are July 26-Aug. 11. Clark could be named to either team, but there is a lot of U.S. veteran depth at guard. The Americans are going for their eighth consecutive 5-on-5 gold medal, and they won the inaugural 3×3 Olympic tournament at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

In all, nine former Olympians will be taking part in the Cleveland camp, including five-time gold medalist Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury,

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