Caitlin Clark is nearing Kelsey Plum’s NCAA scoring record, and Plum has some advice for the Iowa star.
“I understand the importance of it, but let’s just say when she breaks it, I’ll be very, very happy,” Plum, a former guard at the University of Washington and now a two-time WNBA champion with the Las Vegas Aces, told the Associated Press.
First, Clark has one milestone to pass: the 3,000-point marker. She has a chance to do so on Wednesday against Iowa State, as she enters the game with 2,954 points. If she does, she’d be the fastest to reach 3,000 points in 109 games, four more than current record-holder Elena Delle Donne.
Plum holds the all-time NCAA Division I scoring mark with 3,527 career points, and Clark is on pace to surpass it by the end of February. She’s also within reach of Pete Maravich’s all-time Division I scoring record of 3,667 points.
Plum has said the attention surrounding her pursuit of the record in 2016 took a toll on her mental health and followed her into the WNBA, where she was the No. 1 draft pick. She advised Clark to keep the milestones in perspective.
“I feel like people started caring less about the game and more about just the individual points,” Plum said. “You can play really well and score 15, 20 points and have a great game and people will be like, ‘Aw, it was only a 20-point game.’
“It was tough for me because I felt like I lost a little bit of my identity and it ultimately led to a tough transition into the (WNBA) because the expectations were so high. So, if anything, I’d try to send her as much compassion and love as I can and I hope the people around her are checking in with her … because it’s going to be tough to feel like you’re just playing basketball.”
Clark is also on pace to become the first player in D-I history — men’s or women’s — to register 3,000 points and 1,000 assists for her career.
As she chases multiple records, Clark’s popularity has already reached astronomical heights.
“The way people have on our jerseys, the way people have on Iowa clothes, it’s just not the same for every other program,” Clark said. “So, I think for me, it’s ‘just don’t let it overwhelm you. Don’t let the moment pass you by.’ Living in the now is super important. It’s really special.
“These are going to be some of the best moments of my life that I get to share with my best friends, as a kid who’s 21 years old in college. I play this game because I love it. I play because it’s fun. And when I play that way, that’s what allows me to be as good as I am.”