Kelsey Plum emphasizes advice to Caitlin Clark as Iowa guard nears her NCAA scoring record


Caitlin Clark LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 29: Kelsey Plum #10 of the Las Vegas Aces warms up before a game against the New York Liberty at Michelob ULTRA Arena on June 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Liberty 98-81. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Before Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, fans watched Kelsey Plum chase the all-time NCAA women’s basketball career scoring record with the University of Washington.

Years later, Clark is on the cusp of reaching Plum’s historic mark of 3,527 points. While the Las Vegas Aces star is delighted to see Clark raise the bar, she’s been consistent in her messaging that the accomplishment might not be all sunshine and daisies.

Plum set the record on Feb. 25, 2017, scoring 57 points in the Huskies’ 84-77 home win over Utah. The performance, which lifted her over Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles’ career tally of 3,393 set in 2001, came at the peak of a stressful time.

At a USA Basketball women’s team camp that ends Sunday at Barclays Center in New York, Plum spoke to reporters about Clark’s looming accolade.

“I’m actually very grateful to pass that baton. I’m very happy for her,” Plum said on Friday via ESPN’s Michael Voepel.”If anything, make sure that we show her love outside of her performance. She’ll break it. I’m excited for her.”

She went on to say it was a “low point” in her life, accompanied by “a lot of pressure.” And it’s nothing she hasn’t said before.

In December, Plum was asked to reflect on the pinnacle of her college career in an interview with the Associated Press.

“It was tough for me because I felt like I lost a little bit of my identity and it ultimately led to a tough transition into the [WNBA] because the expectations were so high,” Plum said. “I’d try to send her as much compassion and love as I can and I hope the people around her are checking in with her … because it’s going to be tough to feel like you’re just playing basketball.”

The issues arose with the precedent set by Plum’s offensive prowess, and how the focus began to shift.

“I feel like people started caring less about the game and more about just the individual points,” Plum added. “You can play really well and score 15, 20 points and have a great game and people will be like, ‘Aw, it was only a 20-point game.'”

Even though Plum feels expectations set by her time at Washington made her entry into the WNBA more difficult, it all worked out in the long run.

She’s continued to develop since she was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. In the past two seasons, she’s earned two WNBA titles with the Aces and made two All-Star appearances. In 2022, she was an All-Star MVP. In 2020, she was a U.S. Olympic gold medalist (3×3).

On Friday, Plum emphasized that Clark should be given the considerations she wasn’t.

“I hope everyone in the media takes time to understand that [Clark] is not just a basketball player but a young woman that has feelings and emotions,” she said. “She carries it with grace, but there’s a lot to handle there.”

Clark is no stranger to breaking records. She combined multiple historic marks during last year’s NCAA Tournament, including the most points ever scored in men’s or women’s March Madness. She surpassed Plum’s record of most 30-point games in D1 women’s college basketball over the past 25 years in November.

But all of it comes with plenty of fanfare, some of which might seem like too much for a 22-year-old.

When she takes the court Saturday night against Maryland, FOX will have a designated camera capturing “every time she touches the ball” for a TikTok livestream. With Clark’s current pace, she is most likely to meet the record when the Hawkeyes host Michigan on Feb. 15.



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