With the WNBA Draft nearing, what’s next for Caitlin Clark?

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Caitlin Clark’s college career ended Sunday with a loss to South Carolina in the national championship. But the Iowa star’s popularity won’t be going away.

“I know what’s next is soon,” she said.

Eight days, to be exact.

That’s when Clark will be in New York for the WNBA Draft, where she’s expected to be the No. 1 pick by the Indiana Fever. After rising to national prominence during her collegiate career, there are already signs that she will make an impact in the professional league.

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What to know about the WNBA Draft

The draft will take place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on April 15. ESPN will air the draft and it will also stream on Fubo.
Here’s the first-round order of the draft:

1. Indiana Fever
2. Los Angeles Sparks
3. Chicago Sky (via Phoenix)
4. Los Angeles Sparks (via Seattle)
5. Dallas Wings (via Chicago)
6. Washington Mystics
7. Minnesota Lynx
8. Chicago Sky (via Atlanta)
9. Dallas Wings
10. Connecticut Sun
11. New York Liberty
12. Atlanta Dream (via Las Vegas)

What kind of impact will Clark make in the WNBA?

Let’s start on the court. Clark will have to work harder for her shot, of course. (Don’t think these veterans aren’t licking their chops to shut her down.) But her seemingly limitless range and astounding accuracy will still make her tough to guard. Where she can make an immediate impact is her passing.

She’s already one of the best all-time passers in college, finishing her career with a Division I record of 1,144 assists. Clark’s Iowa teammates weren’t always adept down low at converting her passes. Now imagine what Aliyah Boston, the 2023 Rookie of the Year, will do with incoming keen passes from Clark.

In terms of marketing and star power, the WNBA better be prepared. The Fever are seeing spikes in ticket sales, and the Las Vegas Aces already announced moving to a bigger arena to accommodate more fans when she comes to town. Last season, the Fever had the second lowest attendance in the league, ahead of only Atlanta, which plays in a much larger arena and averaged 85 percent capacity. The Fever likely will be one of the most popular fan destinations.

Similar to her experience at Iowa, Fever road games should see record numbers, too. The Hawkeyes sold out all but two of their games this season — home, road or postseason. Her fans aren’t going anywhere.

Will she lose money by going to the WNBA?

This narrative has been shot down several times over, but it still persists by some who don’t factor in her endorsement power. Clark has the most high-profile endorsement deals of any college basketball player. (You’ve seen the State Farm ads, right?) Those aren’t going away, and expect a lucrative sneaker deal to be coming her way.

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The Caitlin Clark business is booming. Here’s how her WNBA sponsorships are lining up

As the presumptive No. 1 selection, she would be guaranteed $76,535 in her first season. (She didn’t make a salary at Iowa.) She can also make up to $250,000 in a league marketing deal and up to $100,000 in a team marketing contract if she opts not to play abroad next WNBA offseason. If she does go abroad, she can expect a lucrative contract from a team in Europe or China.

But with her marketing power, she’s likely to be signed to even more endorsement deals.

Did Clark have to go pro?

No. Like other seniors, Clark was granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA because of the pandemic disruption. She announced on Feb. 29 that she would not be returning to Iowa City, raising the stakes to go out with a bang in the tournament.

Who else will be in the draft?

Look for The Athletic’s post-tournament mock draft coming in a few days. But other potential stars are expected to hear their names called.

South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso, Stanford’s Cameron Brink and Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson are expected to be early selections. LSU’s Angel Reese is expected to be picked around No. 8.

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WNBA Mock Draft: Where will Angel Reese land? Who will be picked after Caitlin Clark?

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(Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)





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