Caitlin Clark was 'ready for a new challenge' in making decision to leave Iowa for WNBA

Gainbridge Coliseum was packed with fans as the Indiana Fever introduced Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clark said that the Indiana Fever winning the WNBA Draft lottery in December was a factor in her decision to leave Iowa.

"It definitely played a huge role [in entering the WNBA Draft]," Clark said during Wednesday's introductory press conference. "I was hoping Indiana got the first pick. It would've made my life a lot better. When I saw that, I was pretty excited."

Clark went No. 1 overall in Monday's WNBA Draft following a record-setting and decorated career at Iowa. After leading the Hawkeyes to back-to-back national title games and winning numerous individual honors, the 22-year-old guard was ready to take her game to the next level.

"I was just ready for a new challenge and something new in my life," Clark said. "I felt like I had done everything at Iowa that I possibly could, and we did a lot of amazing things. To be able to come here and stay in the midwest — it's only five hours from Iowa City, seven hours from where I grew up [in Des Moines], you really can't script it any better. It was really a no-brainer from me."

The last few weeks have been busy for Clark having ended her collegiate career and being drafted into the WNBA. Training camps open April 28 and the 2024 regular season tips off May 14.

While we know Clark will have an impact on the Fever this coming season, she may also get the opportunity to represent the U.S. at this summer's Olympic Games in Paris. Clark was one of 14 players invited to the national team camp earlier this month, but she was unable to attend due to the Hawkeyes' being in the Final Four.

But before Clark has the opportunity to play internationally again for the U.S., she will be helping a Fever team looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2016. There was an eight-win improvement from 2022 to 2023, thanks in part to last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, Aliyah Boston, as well as Kelsey Mitchell and NaLyssa Smith.

The Indiana Fever selected Caitlin Clark No. 1 overall in Monday's WNBA Draft. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
The Indiana Fever selected Caitlin Clark No. 1 overall in Monday's WNBA Draft. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The addition of Clark should help the Fever continue their upward trajectory.

"There's just so much talent on this roster," Clark said of the 2024 Fever. "Obviously, Aliyah [Boston] has been one of my teammates before with USA Basketball and I know first-hand how great she is. Erica Wheeler is somebody that's been having my back and we're not even teammates yet. A vet, somebody that's been in the league for a really long time. As a point guard you need someone to lean on, that's going to have your back, to ask questions."

Clark is entering the WNBA as the top star of a strong draft class. Her influence on the game helped draw record television ratings during the NCAA tournament and is a big reason why 36 of the Fever's 40 games this season will be broadcast nationally.

"At times it doesn't feel real. I feel like I'm kind of stuck in a dream at times," said Clark. "I think the biggest thing I try to remember is how grateful I am to have this opportunity. There's so many people that would kill to be in my shoes.

"I just try to remind myself of how grateful I am. I'm lucky to have these moments."