Why Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers have an extra year of eligibility

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark delights fans by signing autographs after her team’s opening game of the 2023-24 season (Joseph Cress/USA TODAY NETWORK).

Amid the approaching 2024 WNBA Draft, top prospects are contemplating whether to remain in college or go pro.

Caitlin Clark, Paige Bueckers, and Angel Reese have the option to stay in college for an additional year, with extra eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, paving the way for unprecedented decisions in their careers.

The pandemic affected the 2020-21 season, prompting the NCAA to provide an additional year of eligibility for participants in the 2019-20 season. As a result, current fourth-year players like Iowa’s Clark and LSU’s Reese could return for a fifth year, and UConn’s Bueckers, who missed the entirety of the last season due to an ACL injury, may even stay for a sixth year.

However, despite such opportunities, these players have expressed uncertainty about their future plans.

“I really have no clue what I’m going to do, stay for an extra year or leave after next year,” Clark said in February. Subsequently, in October, she reiterated her indecision, portraying a yearning to savor the current season while acknowledging the pending dilemma.

Reflecting similar sentiments, Bueckers has not solidified her intentions beyond the 2023-24 season, hinting at the complexities of making life-altering choices after developing profound attachments to their respective schools and college experiences.

There are genuine uncertainties surrounding their decisions, with both student-athletes facing prospects of extending their college careers while weighing their desires to pursue higher aspirations in their professional careers.

However, Reese, the LSU star, has also pondered the possibilities and risks of another year in college, contemplating her dream to enter the WNBA against the temptations that arise in college.

Other notable players, such as Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson and several others, have capitalized on the extra year of eligibility to further elevate their skills and potential in preparation for the WNBA.


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