In a nearly empty arena in late November 2020, Caitlin Clark shot her first college 3-pointer. Time was ticking down in the first quarter of the Hawkeyes’ matchup against Northern Iowa. Clark forced a steal at midcourt and weaved her way to the right wing. With two defenders around her, she rose up. Her attempt was blocked. That didn’t discourage her. Now a senior, Clark is perhaps the biggest star across both men’s and women’s college basketball. She’s made more than 400 3-pointers throughout her college career and re-written the record book — at Iowa and nationally. “We see it every single day in practice, she hits one (shot) that amazes you or makes one pass that makes your jaw kind of drop,” Iowa assistant Abby Stamp says.Clark passes with pinpoint accuracy. Teammates and coaches alike laud her work ethic and improved leadership skills. But it’s Clark’s 3-point shooting which often immediately jumps out to viewers. She has been compared to some other recent greats in the basketball world — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard and New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, to name a few. But how does Clark actually stack up when compared to such sharp-shooters?
Though the NBA and college 3-point line are different distances (the NBA is 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of the arc, and the college line and WNBA line are both 22 feet, 1 ¾ inches at the top), The Athletic dove into six categories to show just how prolific Clark really is and to explain how she’s become so lethal from behind the arc. The comparison — use the button at the top of most graphs to toggle through Clark’s numbers from last season and this year (with games through Dec. 14) — reveals how this college star already shoots like some all-time professional greats.
Clark’s comfort at shooting from long range stems from years of practice. While visiting home in Des Moines, Clark often shoots 100 logo 3-pointers during workouts, her trainer Kevin O’Hare says. Her goal is to make at least 50. “It’s just something that she’s always worked on,” O’Hare says. He adds that before Clark attempts any heaves she “does all the early fundamental things to get out to that point.” Considering she attempts that many from beyond 30 feet, a 25-to-30-foot 3 is very much in range.