3 women's basketball players who could have a Caitlin Clark -like effect in 2024

College basketball stars JuJu Watkins, Lucy Olsen and Paige Bueckers
image credits: @paigebueckers, @iowawbb, @lafc

With the departures of Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese to the WNBA, women's college basketball is in need of a new face and there are more than a few contenders considering the fact that the sport is at its most popular.

So, who are the three players who could have a Clark-like effect of popularity when next season tips off?

#3. Lucy Olsen

Talented guard Lucy Olsen transferred from Villanova to Iowa and is widely considered the direct replacement for Caitlin Clark in the program. She averaged 23.3 points last season which was No. 3 in the country just behind JuJu Watkins and Clark.

During an interview with the "Des Moines Register," Olsen revealed her approach to being the heir apparent to the Indiana Fever rookie.

“Caitlin Clark is Caitlin Clark. I’m not going to try to be her,” Olsen said. “But they need a point guard, and it’s a perfect opportunity to try to make something happen.”

#2. JuJu Watkins

JuJu Watkins blitzed the record books as a freshman scoring 920 points which is an NCAA freshman record, it was 121 points more than Clark managed as a freshman.

Watkins led the Trojans to the Elite Eight and brought back the USC crowds with celebrities flocking to the Galen Center.

According to USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb's interview with "The Orange County Register," Caitlin Clark endorsed JuJu Watkins as the new face of women's college basketball.

"She was like, 'I had this attention for a year and a half, two years,'" USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "She said to JuJu, 'You're going to have it for the next three.'"

When Clark practiced with the Indiana Fever at the Galen Center where USC practices, she even gave Gottlieb her phone number offering her support for when Watkins inevitably becomes the face of women's college basketball.

"I'm certainly going to utilize that as a resource if she's this willing," Gottlieb said. "I think that's just a neat thing. And I do think it's really cool on her part to be willing to pay it forward, so to speak, and help someone else."

#1. Paige Bueckers is most likely to recreate the Caitlin Clark effect

Paige Bueckers was the high school star who fulfilled the hype by winning a sweep of all the national individual awards during her freshman year even before Caitlin Clark was the renowned figure that she is.

If things had gone differently, Bueckers would have shared a team with Clark but UConn Huskies coach Geno Auriemma revealed before the pair's Final Four clash that he chose to commit to recruiting Bueckers instead.

"Well, there's a lot of kids we didn't recruit and there's a lot of kids who don't want to go to UConn," Auriemma said. "I committed to Paige Bueckers very, very early and it would have been silly for me to say to Paige, 'Hey listen, we're going to put you in the backcourt and then I'm going to try really hard to recruit Caitlin Clark.' I don't do it that way."

Paige Bueckers has had to deal with two season-ending ACL injuries and dropped out of the public's consciousness but she made a comeback last season and is one of the most talented and popular players remaining in women's college basketball.

Either Lucy Olsen, JuJu Watkins or Paige Bueckers could have a Caitlin Clark-like effect next season due to their previous body of work and popularity among college hoops fans.

What could Alabama basketball's 2024-25 starting lineup look like? Find out here

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