How dominant has Caitlin Clark been for Iowa basketball? These charts tell the story:
A historically good week in a historically good career continued Thursday, as Iowa Hawkeyes star Caitlin Clark was named the Associated Press national player of the year — one day after she received the Naismith Award as women's college basketball's best player.
The awards come days after Clark put up one of the most dominant stat lines ever in NCAA Tournament to propel the Hawkeyes to their second Final Four appearance.
She'll face her biggest test yet Friday when Iowa takes on undefeated No. 1 overall seed South Carolina and last year's player of the year, Aliyah Boston. But first, let's take a moment to appreciate just how impressive Clark's performances have been — both in this tournament and throughout her career.
Caitlin Clark's Elite Eight stats were historic
Sunday's Elite Eight matchup against Louisville was epic Caitlin Clark encapsulated in 40 minutes of basketball.
By points alone, Clark had enough to enter the record books: In NCAA Tournament history, only eight women have scored more than the 41 points Clark put up.
But scoring on your own doesn't necessarily guarantee success. The women's NCAA Tournament record for points in a game is, coincidentally, held by another Iowan: Drake's Lorri Baumann, who scored 50 in a tournament game in 1982 … and lost.
Clark also elevates her teammates. Against Louisville, Clark dished out assists on 12 additional field goals. In total, Clark scored or assisted more than two-thirds of Iowa's points.
This takes nothing away from Clark's teammates, of course. They still have to convert the assist opportunities they get — making Clark's numbers as eye-popping as they are.
It's been like that all tournament. In each of the four games Iowa has played so far, Clark has been directly or indirectly responsible for more than half of the team's points.
Against Georgia in the second round, Clark had a hand in every field goal the team made in the second half.
And then there are the rebounds. Clark pulled down 10 against Louisville, completing a historic triple-double.
Only 16 women have recorded a triple-double in NCAA Tournament history. No one, man or woman, has ever scored as many points in such a performance as Caitlin Clark did. None have come particularly close.
Let basketball legend Magic Johnson himself explain why it was such an astounding performance:
I want to give a lot of love to superstar Caitlin Clark after she recorded 41 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in Iowa’s over win over Louisville! She’s the first player ever to record a 40-point triple-double in a men’s or women’s NCAA Tournament game. @caitlinclark22
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 28, 2023
What makes Caitlin’s 40-point triple-double so special is the fact so many player never had one, not me, Michael Jordan, or Larry Bird!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 28, 2023
Caitlin Clark has the ability to tilt the court
A key reason why Clark has so much success is that she can shoot with impressive accuracy from anywhere on the court.
She scores at an above-average rate on every type of shot — layups, mid-range jumpers, 3-pointers, the list goes on. When you're defending Caitlin Clark, nowhere is safe.
Defenses have to pick their poison: Letting Clark have an open look means more points surrendered, on average, than against most other players.
But focusing defensive efforts on Clark draws attention away from the Hawkeyes' other threats, like Monika Czinano — who makes more than two of every three field goals she attempts, usually around the basket — or McKenna Warnock or Kate Martin, each of whom are shooting at a rate greater than 39% from beyond the arc.
Fouling is not an option either. Clark's free-throw percentage of 83.6% is well above average, ranking 69th in the nation.
Through three seasons, Caitlin Clark's college career already among the best ever
Iowa fans know Clark's hasn't suddenly gained basketball superpowers. She's been doing this since she arrived in Iowa City three years ago.
Clark led the nation in points scored each of her first two seasons; Villanova's Maddie Siegrist is the only reason she hasn't accomplished that feat again this season, despite scoring more points (984) than she ever has before.
That's fine — Clark will just have to settle for leading the nation in both 3-pointers and assists for the second time in three seasons. Clark assisted on a whopping 48% of her teammates' field goals this season. No other Division I player in the country assisted on more than 42% of their teammates' buckets.
Clark's 2022-23 season was the third time she appeared among the top 50 individual seasons in points, and the second time she appeared among the top 50 individual seasons in assists (both since 2001, as recorded by College Basketball Reference). It was also her best yet, as her season ranked fifth since 2001 in both categories.
No other player has ever made the top five in both lists.
Clark still has one more season before she'll be eligible to declare for the WNBA draft, which should give her plenty of time to chase down the players at the top of the collegiate career leaderboards. She ranks 28th in career points and 21st in career assists — but if she were to repeat her totals from this season, she'd jump to first and second on those lists, respectively.
Already, Clark's per-game stats put her in unprecedented territory. Clark has scored 27 points per game in her collegiate career, more than anyone since 2001. Her 7.98 assists per game place her in fourth.
Basketball has an advanced metric called "points produced" that aims to measure the number of points a player produces, directly and indirectly. Based on that metric, it's clear that women's college basketball has never seen a player like Caitlin Clark.
Not only does Clark produce more points per game than anyone else, but the difference between her and second place is larger than the difference between second and fifteenth.
At this point, Clark doesn't have much more to prove, but winning a national championship would certainly be a nice feather in her cap. She's two games away from accomplishing that — but Friday will be the Hawkeyes' toughest challenge yet.
More: Iowa women's basketball standout Caitlin Clark named AP national player of the year
Tim Webber is a data visualization specialist for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com, 515-284-8532, and on Twitter at @HelloTimWebber.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Caitlin Clark's eye-popping Iowa women's basketball stats, visualized