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Fever dream: Caitlin Clark + Aliyah Boston = future championships

In Sports
April 16, 2024

NEW YORK — Caitlin Clark is accustomed to dropping 30-pieces and breaking scoring records. Her own point totals are not what has her excited about officially joining the Indiana Fever as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

It’s the ones to come from Aliyah Boston, the Fever’s 2023 No. 1 overall pick whom Clark called “one of the best post players in the entire world.”

“My point guard eyes just light up at that,” Clark said Monday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The general consensus from analysts, league evaluators and Clark herself is that the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer’s passing ability is what will quickly translate to the professional level. Boston, an analyst covering Iowa for the Big Ten Network this season, told a group of reporters the same hours before the draft.

“Everyone talks about her shots and, obviously, not everyone can shoot from the logo,” the league’s reigning Rookie of the Year said. “But I think for me [it’s] her ability, one, to run the floor … but also to be able to make those passes to teammates [and] to find an open player.”

It’s welcome news for the Fever after ranking 11th out of 12 teams in assists per game last season despite Boston dominating the paint and Kelsey Mitchell, one of the NCAA’s best scorers, lighting up the scoreboard. Clark is poised to ensure she can raise the level for Indiana, a team on the cusp of regular title contention.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 15: Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected first overall pick by the Indiana Fever during the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected first overall by the Indiana Fever during the 2024 WNBA Draft at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, 2024, in New York. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

“As a point guard, my biggest job is I’m just feeding Aliyah the ball every single day,” Clark said. “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be in there and be like, ‘Go make a layup.’ She’s going to make my life easy.”

A lot of people’s lives are about to become easier. Fever players back home at a packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse jumped up in celebration when the pick became official. Guard Erica Wheeler, who watched the Final Four courtside last week, donned Clark’s new No. 22 jersey Monday and showed it off to the crowd.

With her signature “Come on now,” Clark first said Boston when asked whom she’s most looking forward to playing with or against this season. She then included Wheeler, a vet she said she can lean on for advice.

“I’m 22 years old and I don’t have all the answers in the world,” Clark said. “This is something new to me. This is a new challenge.”

Indiana is on an upward trajectory and chasing its first postseason berth since 2016, when Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings was on the floor. Clark said she remembered Catchings on the broadcast for one of her freshman games and “tweaking out” at a star she idolized.

Even before the Fever won the draft lottery, general manager Lin Dunn said she would be disappointed if the franchise didn’t make its postseason return in 2024. Now Indiana is entering its most pivotal one-year stretch with its first No. 1 picks in franchise history.

“That’s definitely our goal is to get back to championship habits,” Clark said.

College basketball’s brightest star is officially en route to a basketball state in Indiana. The franchise is entering Year 3 of Dunn’s rebuilding plan that includes increased investment in practice facilities, organizational staff and marketing support.

“She’s already had an impact and we hadn’t even drafted her,” Dunn told reporters at Monday’s draft party regarding Clark. “So let’s see what’s going to happen now that we’ve drafted her. She’s coming to Indianapolis, she’s going to be an integral part of the Indiana Fever, and I can’t wait to see Boston and Mitchell and Clark, wow. And [NaLyssa] Smith. All of ’em.”

Ticket prices for the Fever increased 190% since last season, according to Vivid Seats data earlier this week. The average sold price is $174, up from $60 in 2023. Opposing teams are preparing for Indiana and Clark to visit.

The Las Vegas Aces moved their game against Indiana to the larger T-Mobile Arena to reap the rewards. The two games at the New York Liberty, one game at Chicago and another at Los Angeles are the four hottest WNBA tickets of 2024.

“Everyone is cheering for us. Everyone is always rooting for us,” Boston said. “It just makes it so much better because you know you have a city behind you, a state behind you, and a lot of fans that just want to travel and watch you play.”

It will be a sharp change in loyalty for the people of Indiana. Clark spent four years terrorizing the Hoosiers in the Big Ten and joked they probably “didn’t love me too much during my career.”

She hopes the team will turn them into Fever fans if they’re not already.

“I can’t imagine a more perfect fit, a better place for me to start my professional career,” Clark said. “An organization that really just believes in women’s basketball and wants to do everything the right way. So I couldn’t be more excited to get there.”

Neither can her newest teammates.

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