Why didn't UConn recruit Caitlin Clark? It's simple

The Iowa superstar had interest in the Huskies, but Geno Auriemma never returned the favor.

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Last week’s Weekly


  • Paige Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards were both named Wooden All-Americans. Bueckers is one of five finalists for the Wooden Award.

  • Sarah Strong, the No. 1 player in the class of 2024 will announce her decision next week. UConn is one of three finalists alongside Duke and UNC.

Why didn't UConn recruit Caitlin Clark? It's simple

As UConn prepares to face Iowa in the Final Four on Friday, one storyline amid the Caitlin Clark mania has risen to the surface: During the recruiting process, the superstar had interest in the Huskies, but Geno Auriemma never returned the favor.

“I loved UConn,” she told ESPN. “I think they're the coolest place on Earth, and I wanted to say I got recruited by them. They called my AAU coach a few times, but they never talked to my family and never talked to me."

On Tuesday, Auriemma provided an explanation: UConn had landed Paige Bueckers in the same recruiting class and didn’t want to bring in a second player that would fill the same role.

“I committed to Paige Bueckers very, very early,” he said. “It would have been silly for me to say to Paige, ‘Hey, listen, we're going to put you in the backcourt, and then I'm going to try really hard to recruit Caitlin Clark.’ I don't do it that way.”

“We made the decision we thought we needed to make,” he continued. “I try to lock into who fits with us, try to lock in on them early. That's what happened with us and Paige. We felt really, really comfortable with that, and we went with it.”

There’s another answer, though — and it doesn’t have to do with roster construction. In fact, it’s included prominently in the same ESPN story on Clark that unearthed the nugget about the Huskies’ lack of interest.

Clark struggled to contain her emotions to the point that “she'd have tantrums,” to quote the story. Body language is also a persistent issue. From the story:

“(High school coach Kristin) Meyer started showing her film of her body language, something the Iowa coaches still do. They'd sit down and watch in silence as Caitlin stomped and gestured…A lot of college coaches watched the same body language sequences Meyer did. Most didn't mind.”

Hard to imagine the same could be said about UConn. During the 2016 Final Four, Auriemma revealed how the program values positive body language.

“Me, my coaching staff — we put a huge premium on body language. If your body language is bad, you will never get in the game. Ever. I don’t care how good you are,” he said.

The most prominent example of that in practice is when Auriemma famously benched Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck during a game against Memphis in 2015. They only played 35 minutes because he didn’t like their body language.

“Stewie was acting like a 12-year old so I put her on the bench and said ‘sit there,’” Auriemma said at that same Final Four.

If Auriemma wouldn’t put up with bad body language from a four-time national championship, it’s hard to imagine he’d make an exception for a high school player — especially when UConn already had someone committed at the same position in Bueckers.

The Huskies have high standards on the recruiting trail and don’t bend them. There’s a reason they only brought in three players in 2015, 2016 and just two in 2018 and 2019.

Regardless, it’s worked out well for both parties. Bueckers won national player of the year in 2021 and despite the injuries, she’s led UConn to a Final Four every year she’s been on the floor. Meanwhile, Clark has gotten the opportunity at Iowa to have the ball in her hands at all times and has become a legend of the game.

There were no losers here.

“I don't think that either of us lost out,” Auriemma said. “I think she made the best decision for her, and it's worked out great. We made the decision we thought we needed to make.”

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