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Caitlin Clark doesn’t rule out staying at Iowa for fifth year

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark signs autographs for fans after hitting the game-winner Sunday against Indiana. (Joseph Cress/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark already has WNBA teams and fans counting down the days until the 2024 WNBA draft.

Yet with an extra year of eligibility at her disposal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the junior guard could throw the basketball world for a loop.

“I really have no clue what I’m going to do, stay for an extra year or leave after next year,” Clark said Monday on the Dan Patrick Show.

When asked if she is seriously considering a fifth year at Iowa or just playing coy, the 21-year-old superstar seemed earnest in her desire to explore her options. She explained that she sees “pros and cons to both sides.”

The interview came just a day after she hit a game-winning 3-pointer to clinch a win for the No. 7 Hawkeyes (23-6) against No. 2 Indiana (26-2), so the pros of staying put in Iowa stood out fresh in her mind.

“I just love this place,” Clark said of Iowa. “I love getting to play in front of a sold-out crowd every single night. I love college basketball. I don’t know. It would be hard to leave.”

Still, she acknowledged the pull of the WNBA, saying, “That’s where I want to be.” In the 2024 draft, Clark would be a clear lottery pick, if not necessarily the No. 1 overall pick in a class that also could include UConn star Paige Bueckers and LSU star Angel Reese. All these players, though, could choose to stick around for an extra season.

“It’s been hard for a lot of college athletes to decide what to do, just because there are pros to staying in college but also your dream of reaching the next level is right there,” Clark said.

South Carolina star Aliyah Boston, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, has acknowledged similar struggles as she decides whether to stay or go. In particular, Boston has pointed to the name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities available to her as making her choice more difficult.

“You don’t really have to do anything (in college) except hoop, go to school and make money,” she said in January. “In the real world, all of the sudden everything is coming at you, so I think it plays a major decision.”

Clark, though, said NIL deals would not play a major role in her decision.

“NIL is still kind of a thing when you get into pro sports too,” she said. “You still have all those endorsements. You still have sponsorships and whatnot… So it’s not really something I would factor into my decision of staying or going too much.”