Dawn Staley: “If Caitlin Clark wins the championship…she's a GOAT.”

CLEVELAND — Does Kaitlyn Clark need to win a national championship to be considered the greatest of all time?

South Carolina State head coach Dawn Staley thinks so, but for obvious reasons she hopes there's no change in the GOAT's condition by Sunday night.

“If Kaitlyn wins the tournament, she'll be very good, yeah, she's the GOAT,” Staley said Saturday morning. “I mean it's really good regardless. But winning the championship would seal the deal.

“I hope to dear God she doesn't.”

South Carolina and Iowa will meet in the 2024 national championship at 3pm ET Sunday on ABC in what will be Clark's final conference game. The NCAA's all-time leading scorer announced last month that she would forgo her extra year of eligibility and declare for the WNBA draft when her season ends.

This is Iowa State's second straight appearance in the game after capturing its first title last year. The discussion has been swirling for months about whether Clark, who has spent the last two months toppling NCAA Division I men's and women's records, needs to be known as the GOAT.

“Yes. She does. I think so,” said Brianna Stewart, four-time UConn champion Sirius XM said From USA Basketball camp Friday. “Because you'll look back 10 years and you'll see all the records you broke and the points and things like that, but anyone knows that your goal when you play college basketball is to win a national championship. So you need one.”

Iowa State's Kaitlyn Clark listens as South Carolina State head coach Dawn Staley speaks during a press conference announcing the AP NCAA Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo/Maury Gash)

Iowa State's Kaitlyn Clark listens as South Carolina State head coach Dawn Staley speaks during a press conference announcing the AP NCAA Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Maury Gash)

Not only did Stewart win a title every year she played, but she also swept the Final Four Most Valuable Player awards during her tenure. She is the first and only one to do so. Most, including Staley, view her as the goat of the college. Staley said she agreed with Stewart.

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“I was really good in college. He never won a championship,” said Staley, who was a former guard at Virginia from 1988 to 1992. “You have to win a championship. You have to win the championship. This is me personally. Like, I had a great career. But always, did you win the championship? He went to the Final Four three times. We never won.”

Championships can never be taken away, but records can. Clark's removal of the NCAA Division I women's basketball scoring record came seven years after Kelsey Bloom broke it. Bloom sat on the court with ace teammates Jackie Young and A'ja Wilson — all of whom were with Stewart at USA's camp in Cleveland — watching UConn take on Iowa State on Friday night. Every one of their marks is in jeopardy with USC's JuJu Watkins tearing up the competition in her first year.

The argument often made for Clarke is that she's doing it without her five-star teammates. Stewart's teammates at UConn for those four titles included a wealth of WNBA talent: Moriah Jefferson, Kia Nurse, Gabby Williams, Naveesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson, Morgan Tuck, Kalina Mosqueda-Lewis, Kia Stokes, Bria Hartley, and Stephanie Dolson. Several of them have won titles in the pros, including Stokes with the Aces the past two years.

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