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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The rivalry and stardom of women’s basketball players

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are just some of the many rivaling stars


By MI’ZAUNI REESE — sports@theaggie.org


For the majority of U.S. history, men’s college and professional basketball has taken up the spotlight, with women’s sports, especially basketball, receiving a fraction of that recognition. However, with the recent rise of superstars Caitlin Clark at the University of Iowa (UI) and Angel Reese at Louisiana State University (LSU), women’s basketball has taken its moment in the spotlight. With both of these women being in the top ten overall draft picks, they are expected to make waves in the WNBA and American sports altogether.

Clark, the number one overall draft pick this season, has been making headlines far before the draft. While attending UI, Clark was able to shatter dozens of NCAA and Big Ten records during her career. With recognition for the most points scored by any college player of all time, male or female, Clark has been a player to keep an eye on.

Even after being invited to practice with the 2024 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team leading up to the Olympics in Paris, Clark’s goal is to secure an invitation to compete. After being drafted this year to the Indiana Fever, she had the top-earning jersey for any draft pick ever in both male and female basketball.

Another star player, Angel Reese, has had a similar impact on the sport. As she and Clark’s face-offs in college brought mass coverage to women’s basketball, Reese is becoming a household name around the U.S. Bringing in many wins for LSU, Reese has been granted dozens of awards, with her most recent being the 2024 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year. 

In her first WNBA game with the Chicago Sky she was able to put up double-digit points, an accomplishment Clark did not reach in her debut. The constant comparison between these two has brought significant attention to the sport, as fans feel that the women are exhibiting more drive and competitiveness in the sport with their constant record breaks. NBA pros have even begun to get involved and show support for the women, with Shaquille O’Neal serving as Reese’s mentor and even saying he may prefer the WNBA for entertainment.

Additionally, O’Neal advocates for the closure of the wage gap seen in the NBA versus WNBA. With Reese’s and Clark’s followings, stadiums are expected to be packed all season, especially when these two are pitted against each other. Many teams are seeking bigger venues for their games against Clark or Reese to accommodate the influx in viewership. 

However, despite this increase in support for the WNBA, the recent women’s basketball contracts are disappointing. Clark, the most anticipated player of the season, will be making a little under $340,000 over four years with her WNBA contract. Compared to her eight-year $28 million contract with Nike, this is rather insignificant, as most WNBA athletes have to rely on brand deals rather than their league contracts. 

With Reese’s contract being just under Clark’s at around $330,000 over four years, she too is being undervalued for the skill and attention she has brought to the team. Although many point to the fact that rookies make less money than veterans in the sport, NBA rookies have a minimum annual salary of $1.12 million, with their top overall draft pick earning around $10 million. 

These women have brought millions of dollars and views to collegiate basketball and soon the WNBA as they are anticipated to reshape the sport and viewer’s perception of it. Hopefully, with an increase in recognition will come an increase in salary that equates to their skill and importance.


Written by: Mi’Zauni Reese — sports@theaggie.org



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