Basketball-Record-breaker Clark headlines talented WNBA Draft class

FILE PHOTO: Mar 25, 2024; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) in action during the NCAA second round game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Caitlin Clark headlines a talented Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft class on Monday, as the Iowa guard and presumed first overall pick kick-starts the next phase of her career.

There are not many surprises expected, with Clark all but assured to go to an ailing Indiana Fever, after she broke Pete Maravich's 54-year-old all-time NCAA scoring record this season and became appointment viewing in U.S. households.

"I'm eager to see players around (Clark) who can consistently see what she sees and finish what she delivers to them," Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo told reporters this week.

"There will be challenges, but at the same time, the talent around her is also going to be better."

If all goes as expected, Clark will join last year's unanimous Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston in an effort to revive the Fever, who have not had a winning season since 2015.

The Los Angeles Sparks will have a pair of picks in the top five - at number two and number four - with an embarrassment of riches to choose from at the Brooklyn affair.

Stanford's Cameron Brink could add extraordinary shot-blocking ability to a struggling Sparks team that ended last year a disappointing 17-23.

And six-foot seven-inch Brazilian center Kamilla Cardoso is another appealing option, after averaging 14.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in her final year at South Carolina.

The Chicago Sky and Dallas Wings have the third and fifth selections, respectively.

Sparks General Manager Raegan Pebley said fostering young talent was one of her top goals for the upcoming season.

"It's my job to be a good steward over these picks," she told reporters. "I anticipate that we're going to have a training camp that's going to be really competitive."

Other names to watch out for on Monday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music include Connecticut forward Aaliyah Edwards, LSU's charismatic leader Angel Reese and Tennessee's Rickea Jackson.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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