USA Basketball to leave Caitlin Clark off Paris Olympics roster

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The brightest rising star in women’s basketball won’t get the chance to take center stage at the Paris Olympics this summer.

USA Basketball has decided not to include Caitlin Clark on its 12-player roster for the women’s competition in Paris, two people with knowledge of the decision confirmed Saturday.

Clark, 22, has emerged as a face of her sport since leading the University of Iowa to back-to-back national championship games and being selected as the No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA draft, but she was omitted from a veteran-dominated roster that is seeking the United States’ eighth straight gold medal.

The U.S. roster will be headlined by five-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi and WNBA stars A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart. The group also is expected to include Napheesa Collier, Kahleah Copper, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Sabrina Ionescu, Jewell Loyd, Kelsey Plum, Alyssa Thomas and Jackie Young. USA Today and the Athletic first reported the decision to leave off Clark.

Clark, the extraordinarily popular Indiana Fever rookie, became NCAA Division I’s all-time leading scorer at Iowa as a senior, captivating fans with her deep three-point shooting and excellent passing vision. Through 12 games with the Fever, she is averaging 16.8 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds. While she has struggled with turnovers and her shooting efficiency as she adjusts to the professional game, she is one of just two WNBA players to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists this season.

Clark’s entry into the WNBA has coincided with huge increases in television ratings, attendance and merchandise sales, even though the Fever has won just three of its first 12 games.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that Clark has generated “tremendous interest” for the WNBA and acknowledged that she has experienced “welcome to the league” treatment from opponents, including a recent flagrant foul by Chennedy Carter of the Chicago Sky that sparked controversy among fans and the media.

“I want to see Caitlin treated fairly and appropriately in the league,” Silver said. “I would say it seems like she can take care of herself. She’s a tough player. … I think the burgeoning rivalries within professional basketball … can be ultimately good for the sport.

“There’s also some larger societal issues at work. There’s no doubt. I don’t want to hide from that. Some having to do with race, and they’re very apparent. I think sports historically has been a platform for people to talk directly about these issues. I don’t think we should hide from them, and I think the players are happy to engage on these issues. They’re sophisticated people.”

Clark was one of 14 players to earn an invitation to USA Basketball’s final pre-Olympics training camp in April, but she was unable to attend because she was playing with Iowa in the Final Four. While attending the training camp is not required for selection, it typically plays a role in the selection committee’s roster decisions. Clark has represented her country previously in several youth competitions.

The Americans have won gold in women’s basketball at every Olympics since 1996, and they will be heavily favored again. USA Basketball will play Japan in its Olympics opener July 29; the gold medal game is scheduled for Aug. 11.

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