Why didn’t Caitlin Clark go to UConn? Huskies coach Geno Auriemma looked elsewhere during recruiting process

Like many young basketball fans, Caitlin Clark grew up in an era of dominance for UConn women. The Huskies won four consecutive national championships under Geno Auriemma and at one point carried a stunning 111-game win streak that ended in 2017.

Many prominent women’s basketball prospects dream of playing for UConn, but Clark charted her own path at Iowa. She emerged as a star as a freshman and has morphed into a legend of the sport before even playing her final game with the Hawkeyes.

It would be a surprise if Clark regretted any part of her decision to go to Iowa. She’s taken the Hawkeyes to two Final Fours and made the program one of the most prominent in the sport. Still, it wasn’t entirely her decision not to play for UConn.

Here’s the story behind Clark’s decision to go to Iowa and why UConn wasn’t an option for the former top prospect.

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Why didn’t Caitlin Clark go to UConn?

Clark isn’t holding anything back when it comes to discussing her decision to play for Iowa. She openly admitted she wished she was recruited by UConn, telling ESPN that while she “loved” the program, Auriemma never reached out to her.

“I think they’re the coolest place on earth, and I wanted to say I got recruited by them,” Clark said. “They called my AAU coach a few times, but they never talked to my family and never talked to me.”

Clark was a top-five player in the class of 2020, but UConn already had a commitment from No. 1-ranked point guard Paige Bueckers. That still left room for the Huskies to target Clark, but they instead pursued Hailey Vin Lith before Van Lith decided to attend Louisville.

Clark ultimately committed to Iowa over Notre Dame and Iowa State, changing the course of Hawkeyes history. 

Auriemma addressed Clark’s recruitment process ahead of UConn’s Final Four matchup with Iowa, telling reporters after the Huskies’ win over USC that the result might have been different if Clark had directly expressed interest in playing for his program.

“Caitlin is obviously a tremendous player, a generational player. But if Caitlin really wanted to come to UConn, she would have called me and said, ‘Coach, I really want to come to UConn,’” Auriemma said. “Neither of us lost out. She made the best decision for her, and it’s worked out great. We made the decision we thought we needed to make.”

Auriemma added that he had committed to Bueckers “very, very early” and didn’t think it would have been fair to aggressively pursue Clark with Bueckers already in the backcourt. 

“There are a lot of great players we see coming through high school, thousands of them. You’re only going to recruit some. You’re not going to recruit all of them,” Auriemma continued, explaining that he tries to “lock in on who fits us.”

It’s safe to say Clark would fit with any team in the country, but it’s hard to blame Auriemma for standing by Bueckers and explaining his thought process. Clark could still have a chip on her shoulder when Iowa faces UConn for the right to go to the national championship game, going head-to-head with one of only three players ranked above her in the 2020 recruiting class.

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Caitlin Clark recruiting rankings

Rank Player Commitment
1 Paige Bueckers UConn
2 Angel Reese Maryland
3 Cameron Brink Stanford
4 Caitlin Clark Iowa
5 Kamilla Cardoso Syracuse
6 Diamond Johnson Rutgers
7 Hailey Van Lith Louisville
8 Sydney Parrish Oregon

Clark was the No. 4 player in the 2020 class, according to ESPN rankings.

While Clark will go down as a college basketball legend with just about every scoring record in her possession, the three players ranked ahead of her turned in stellar careers themselves. Reese eventually transferred and led LSU to a national championship, and Bueckers and Brink are two of the game’s biggest stars.

Clark already avenged last year’s title game loss to LSU. Does she have one more revenge game in her against a UConn program that didn’t heavily recruit her four years ago? Athletes will look to just about anything for motivation, and Clark absolutely has a case to say she should’ve been at the top of every program’s list in 2020. 


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