Remembering your roots

Ali Schuchmann, Sports Writer

The average Division I NCAA women and men’s basketball team roster has 16 players, with there being 350 Division I men’s basketball teams and 348 Division I women’s teams. The chances of achieving the NCAA scoring leader means one has to score more points than 5,600 players in Men’s and 5,568 in Women’s. The probability of being the leading scorer in the NCAA is low but the chances of having both the men’s leading scorer and the women’s leading scorer seems impossible. On January 11, The University of Iowa Men’s basketball player Keegan Murray and Iowa Women’s basketball player Caitlin Clark were both sitting at number one on the list for being the NCAA scoring leader. Both of them were raised in Iowa, with Keegan Murray attending Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids until his senior year and Caitlin Clark attending Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines. Throughout Clark’s career, she has had many record-breaking games and has stacked up a lot of awards. In high school, she was named Iowa Miss Basketball, Gatorade State Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American. During her freshman year of college, she had outstanding accomplishments as well. She is the first Division 1 freshman since 2000 to have 12 30-point games in a season. She led the nation in total assists (the most by a freshman in program history), points per game, field goals made and 3-pointers made. Her total points scored in the season were the most ever by a freshman and she broke the school points in a game record with 39 points. She won five Big Ten Conference Player of the Week awards. She was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times. At the end of the regular 2021 season, she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a unanimous First Team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection. She co-won the Tamika Catchings Award and the WBCA Freshman of the Year award. She did not stop there. During this season, Clark’s sophomore year, she reached the 1,000-point mark, making her the fastest Big Ten women’s player to reach it. Clark has also recorded five triple-doubles so far in 2021–22. She had 30-point triple-doubles against both Nebraska and Minnesota, which gave her the title of the first-ever division 1 player to accomplish consecutive 30 point triple-doubles. This has never been accomplished in the WNBA and has only been accomplished by six NBA players ever. Cedar Rapids Xavier Head Girls Basketball Coach Tom Lilly is happy to see the recognition Clark is receiving and hopes it inspires his players. “There have been plenty of other female athletes inspiring young girls, but for the state of Iowa, she has quickly become a local icon. Of course, there are always detractors who try to pick at her competitiveness and actions on the court as being a negative thing. I believe if you have a thoroughbred racehorse, you have to let them run and not pull back the reins too much, I don’t think people know how to take her success,” Lilly said. “I think there will be young girls all over trying to be the next Caitlin Clark.” Murray’s path to success has been completely different from Clark’s. Unlike Clark, he came out of high school with almost no recruiting attention from Division I schools. After a year at a basketball prep academy in Florida, he committed to play at Iowa. His freshman year at Iowa he made big strides. He was a power house off the bench, and while only starting four games, he managed to be on the Big Ten’s all-freshman team. Now in his sophomore year, he has been selected to the Lute Olson National Player of the Year Mid- Season List and ranked second- team midseason All-American. Additionally, he has been named Big Ten Player of the Week three times this season. This has led to many experts predicting him to be a No. 1 NBA draft choice when he decides to leave Iowa. Both players are significantly important to the growth of sports in Iowa. Kids who look up to Clark and Murray are destined for greatness if they put in the work. The players demonstrate confidence, competitiveness and, most importantly, good character, which should be promoted to the youth. Additionally, it gives kids that live in Iowa hope that one day they can be known nationally for their talents. The regular season will soon come to a close and it will be time for the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA tournament so make sure to catch the Hawks as they prepare. The University of Iowa men’s team on February 17 vs Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye arena at 6 pm and the Iowa women’s team on February 20 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall vs Indiana at 4 pm.