Caitlin Clark left off Olympic team: ‘They woke a monster’

Caitlin Clark hopes to play for the U.S. Olympic team one day. It just won’t be in Paris next month.

The Indiana Fever rookie confirmed on Sunday that she isn’t on the roster for this year’s Olympics.

“I think it just gives you something to work for,” Clark told reporters after practice. “It’s a dream. Hopefully, one day I can be there. I think it’s just a little more motivation. … Hopefully, when four years comes back around, I can be there.”

The next Summer Olympics are in Los Angeles in 2028.

While Clark seemed unfazed by the news, her coach said the decision would certainly motivate the star rookie.

“We talked, actually, on the bus,” Fever coach Christie Sides said on Sunday. “She got the call on the bus, and she texted me to let me know.  … The thing she said was ‘hey coach, they woke a monster,’ which I thought was awesome.”

Clark has averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists so far in her young professional career with the Fever.

She wasn’t included on the U.S. roster that was provided to The Associated Press on Saturday by a person familiar with the team. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.

The roster includes A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi, who is going for a record sixth Olympic gold medal.

“I’m excited for the girls that are on the team,” Clark said. “I know it’s the most competitive team in the world, and I know it could have gone either way of me being on the team or me not being on the team. I’m excited for them. Going to be rooting them on to win gold. I was a kid that grew up watching the Olympics. It’ll be fun to watch them.”

The U.S. has won every gold medal in women’s basketball starting with the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Clark said she received a phone call letting her know she wasn’t chosen for this year’s team.

“They called me and let me know before everything came out, which was really respectful of them, and I appreciate that,” she said. “They did the same for every girl that made the team or every girl that didn’t make the team. There [are] a lot of players in the Olympic pool. It wasn’t like I was the only one they had to call. They had to make quite a few calls.”

Beginning with her record-breaking collegiate career at Iowa, Clark has brought millions of new fans to women’s college basketball. The U.S. has specific selection procedures in determining who is on the national team that include availability, position played and versatility.

Based on her inclusion in the U.S. national team pool, Clark could be chosen as an alternate if one of the 12 players is injured and can’t play. Anyone in the pool is eligible to be an alternate.

 The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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