United States women's basketball has established one of the greatest dynasties in sports, winning the last seven consecutive Olympic gold medals. (Usually in utterly dominant fashion.) And good news: the future looks bright when it comes to the next generation of U.S. women's hoopsters continuing that trend of dominance.
A few weeks after the senior team won that seventh and most recent gold medal, the USA's U19 team headed to Hungary to contend for World Cup gold. SPOILER: they cruised to gold with ease. Their closest game was in the final against Australia... and they still won by 18. We have particular reason to note this success because the U.S. team was headlined by a current Iowa star: Caitlin Clark.
After roasting Big Ten defenses all winter and leading Iowa to the Sweet 16 (and a high-profile showdown with UConn), Clark took her talents to Team USA's U19 squad this summer -- and promptly helped them win a gold medal. Not too shabby!
Clark has some experience with this whole gold medal thing too:
GOLD MEDALIST x3!!!!! LETSSSS GOOOOO!!! GETS MORE SPECIAL EVERYTIME @usabjnt— Caitlin Clark (@CaitlinClark22) August 15, 2021
Clark's first gold medal came as a member of the USA U16 squad at the 2017 U16 FIBA Americas Tournament. Her second gold came with the USA U19 team at the 2019 U19 FIBA World Cup Tournament.
She one-upped per previous performances by being the star player for Team USA this time, though, earning tournament MVP honors.
Clark averaged 14.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 5.6 apg over seven games. She shot 36% from 3-point range and posted double-figures in scoring in six of seven outings, highlighted by a 24-point outburst (part of a 24-9-7 line) against Australia in the group stage. Her worst shooting performance came in the final (she was just 3/12 from the floor and 1/5 from deep, finishing with nine points), but she also had eight rebounds and eight assists, making key contributions in other dimensions.
Winning MVP honors also netted Clark a nice watch:
You can celebrate Clark's tremendous performance with a sharp-looking shirt too:
I am proud to drop my first merch with The Vinyl Studio; a homegrown, female owned company. More limited releases planned :)— Caitlin Clark (@CaitlinClark22) August 18, 2021
This shirt is gold!#BackInGold #LimitedReleasehttps://t.co/iLBpQDcws6 pic.twitter.com/5Ev4BI02WT
Congrats, Caitlin. Iowa fans got to see how special a talent you were early and often during your freshman season this past year. Hoops fans across the nation got introduced to your excellence in the NCAA Tournament in March. And now the rest of the world knows has been introduced to the greatness of Caitlin Clark.
We can't wait to see what Clark does for an encore at Iowa in 2021-22. But in the meantime, a hearty congratulations to Caitlin on helping lead Team USA to another impressive gold medal-winning showing at the FIBA U19 World Cup. Here's guessing that won't be the last gold medal Clark wins with Team USA.