Caitlin Clark of Iowa is a unanimous pick for The Associated Press preseason women's basketball All-America team for the second consecutive season.
The star guard was on all 36 ballots from the national media panel that selects the AP Top 25 each week. She led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA championship game for the first time in school history where they lost to Angel Reese and LSU. Reese was also selected as a preseason All-American, appearing on 35 ballots.
Elizabeth Kitley of Virginia Tech, Cameron Brink of Stanford, Paige Bueckers of UConn and Mackenzie Holmes of Indiana were also selected for the team. Kitley and Holmes tied in the voting for the fifth spot.
Clark is now a three-time preseason All-American and is set to have another record year. Last season's AP player of the year averaged 27.8 points, 8.6 assists and 7.1 rebounds. The senior, who has one more season left of eligibility after this year if she wants it, is 810 points behind Kelsey Plum's NCAA record of 3,527 points.
“Caitlin has grown the most this year in her leadership skills. As the point guard, she holds herself and everyone accountable around her," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "She has also learned this summer to become more effective coming off ball screens. She means a ton to our program and it's hard to put it into words. She helped break the NCAA record for attendance, and she’s growing the sport as a whole not just for Iowa.”
Like Clark, Reese has helped the sport grow. The pair faced off in the NCAA title game last year and nearly 10 million people tuned in. The LSU senior helped the Tigers win their first national championship while leading the SEC in scoring (23 points per game) and rebounding (15.4 per game) and setting an NCAA record with 34 double-doubles in a season.
She's ready for an encore.
“She‘s a competitor. I think she wants to be a good leader. Last year she was thrown into a leadership role and she probably was learning as she went along.,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. "Now, because of that experience, maybe she’ll be a better leader both in the locker room and on the floor. She’s a special talent.”
Bueckers is back and healthy for the first time in two seasons. She missed all of last year with a torn ACL in her left knee. That came after she missed most of her sophomore year with a lateral meniscus tear and a tibial plateau fracture.
“I’m feeling much stronger. I feel more confident in my body than I ever have,” said Bueckers, who was the AP player of the year as a freshman in 2021. “When I step on the court, I feel like I’m ready for whatever the defense is going to throw at me and I know people this year are going to test me, push me around, make sure I’m really healthy, make sure my knee’s really good and use physicality as a weapon against me, so I’m ready for that.”
Holmes is the first preseason All-American in Indiana history. She helped Indiana to one of the best seasons in school history, winning the Big Ten regular-season title as she averaged 22.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and shot 68.8% from the field.
“She’s healthy, feels really confident about her knee and her body and her mind,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “I think all of that is really good and has her in a positive place.”
It's the second consecutive year that Kitley has been honored as a preseason All-American. She helped Virginia Tech reach the Final Four last season for the first time in school history, averaging 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds. Kitley decided to come back instead of enter the WNBA draft.
“She’s a generational player," Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. "I can argue she’s the best player in school history.”
Brink averaged 15.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks for the Cardinal last season. She is one of two players left from Stanford's 2021 title team and more will be expected of her with the graduation of Haley Jones.
“She has great hands, great touch, and is passing really well. Cam is very competitive," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She’s being aggressive and understands how important she is for our team to be out there. I think she should be in the running for player of the year. She’s that good.”
All six players have been honored as AP All-Americans in the spring the past few years. Clark, Reese and Holmes were on the first team while Kitley and Brink were on the second team. Bueckers was a unanimous first-team selection her first year.
The AP started choosing a preseason All-America team before the 1994-95 season.
Get poll alerts and updates on the AP Top 25 Basketball Polls throughout the season. Sign up here
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball
Doug Feinberg, The Associated Press