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Graney: Caitlin Clark inspires basketball dreams from Iowa to Nevada

Addy Carr is a freshman on the Bishop Gorman girls’ basketball team. She helped lead the Gaels to a state championship this season as an all-conference player.

She likes to shoot. She can shoot. She can shoot from distance.

It’s one of the reasons Carr is such a fan of Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark, who never met a logo 3-pointer she didn’t embrace.

But there is so much more to it. So much more when it comes to what Clark means to young players, girls and boys alike.

Because they’re all wearing her No. 22 jersey.

“She’s a role model and a great example of confidence and someone who paved the way for young girls in a way of, ‘If I can do this, so can you,’” said Carr, 15. “She’s a phenomenal player and her basketball IQ is off the charts, but it’s her confidence and consistency that really stands out to me.

“It definitely humbles you about the time and effort you’re putting into your own game. Otherwise, you won’t reach your goals out of it.”

Just the beginning

Clark and Iowa meet Connecticut in a Final Four game Friday. It’s the latest opportunity for a nation of basketball fans to witness a player who has transcended the sport.

This is also just the beginning. People will be talking about the journey Clark has inspired for decades to come. About her level of competitiveness. About how such an ability to create a massive fan base grew the game of women’s basketball. About how Clark’s swagger made her even more appealing.

“A good role model is someone who walks the walk and talks the talk,” Bishop Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “She has inspired youth who can now watch her on television in prime time. You’ve got young girls in our city who watch Caitlin Clark and a team like the Aces and who can actually see this is a tangible thing. It blows what’s happening in the women’s game off the roof.”

Clark has transformed that game as Steph Curry once did the men with her 3-point shooting and NCAA scoring records. She has also made so many view women’s basketball in a different way. Women’s sports for that matter.

She’s a generational talent in a sport that has produced more than its share, a player whose legacy swims far past her numbers. No matter how much you watch women’s basketball — a little, a lot, not in the least — you’ve heard of Clark.

She allows young girls to dream. To be confident. To understand why 12.3 million viewers saw an Elite Eight game between Iowa and Louisiana State. To now learn about those who came before Clark, women who paved the way for her greatness to emerge.

The WNBA is the most popular it’s ever been. Women’s college basketball has followed suit. You could never discount the difference Clark made in raising such interest. You can’t deny her role.

Evolution of it

“I never take any moment for granted, no matter where we’re playing with all the people that want to come see us and spend a lot of time and money to watch us for two hours,” Clark said earlier in the NCAA Tournament. “You always want to go out and give it your best, give them a little show, make them smile, make it fun.

“It’s crazy how fast time flies. That’s the biggest thing … It is kind of cool to see the evolution of what this has become. It takes time to build something like this. The fandom has gone to another level.”

It’s because of Clark. She’s transcended the sport.

She makes a young player like Addy Carr dream even bigger.

And so many others as well.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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