Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 23, 2024

The Class of 2024 has forever changed the trajectory of women's basketball

By JOSH FELTON | April 10, 2024



Caitlin Clark is heading the new generation of women’s basketball players that are forever changing the game.

As the sun sets on yet another remarkable college basketball season, it’s safe to say the landscape of women’s college basketball has changed forever.

With the new group of stars entering the WNBA next week, a new set of fans has caught on and become invested. We have just witnessed a seismic shift in the sport's history with how this class of women’s basketball players has captivated fans from across the country in a way we haven’t seen before.

The University of Iowa’s (Iowa) Final Four victory over the University of Connecticut (UConn) on Friday averaged 14.2 million viewers, making it the most-viewed basketball game on an ESPN broadcast, both men’s and women’s. Their matchup with Louisiana State University (LSU) in the Elite Eight game garnered 12.3 million viewers.

Stars like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and Paige Bueckers have captivated the country with their stellar play and personalities.

Clark’s ridiculous outside shooting and exceptional passing are something the women’s game hasn’t seen before. She draws a lot of comparisons to Stephen Curry because of their similarities in playing the game. 

Curry’s exceptional shooting captivated audiences almost a decade ago because of how unprecedented it was. We have now reached that point with Clark. 

Recently, Clark became the all-time leading scorer in collegiate basketball history. Iowa, without any projected WNBA players besides Clark, has managed to reach the national championship game twice, a remarkable feat that has warranted Clark strong consideration as the greatest college basketball player of all time.

Reese is another projected first-round pick in this year’s draft. Last year, LSU won the national championship and Reese was voted NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. She is one of the best defensive prospects in the draft, and her marketable personality has captivated and inspired fans across the world as well.

Bueckers is another very talented basketball player who won Naismith College Player of the Year Award as a freshman, becoming the first freshman to ever receive that honor. This year she responded in a big way, averaging 21.9 points after coming off two major injuries in her sophomore and junior seasons. 

She is one of the most polarizing players in women’s basketball and has been that way since high school. She’ll be returning to UConn next season, and she’ll likely be the number one overall pick in next year’s draft.

These three ladies have created and expanded fan bases in a way the sport hasn’t seen before, but they aren’t alone. Cameron Brink and Kamilla Cardoso round out this class of polarizing superstars, who, together, have grown the sport exponentially. 

Brink is projected to go second in this year’s draft and Cardoso just capped off a phenomenal season, leading the University of South Carolina to a national championship and the first perfect season in college basketball history since 2016.

These young athletes aren't just exceptional players; they are the architects of change, redefining what it means to excel in women's basketball. 

Their impact transcends the hardwood; it has inspired generations of young girls to dream bigger, reach higher and believe in the power of their own potential.

The beauty of it all is that they aren’t alone. As these ladies transition into their new career at the WNBA next week, the next class of up-and-coming superstars in the college game is upon us. 

JuJu Watkins, Hannah Hidalgo and Flau’jae Johnson are just a few of the next class of collegiate players that will continue to push the game forward.

The future of women’s basketball is bright, with these young stars leading the charge into a new era of athleticism, skill and inspiration. 

As they embark on their professional careers, they carry with them the hopes and dreams of a generation, leaving an incredible mark on the sport and shaping its trajectory for years to come.

As someone who has been covering women’s basketball professionally for several years now, I’ve always seen the growth and potential of the sport, but I never would’ve imagined this type of global impact so rapidly. 

The Class of 2024 will be remembered for changing the game.

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