The South Carolina Player That Outshined Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clark has been enjoying a fruitful final season on the University of Iowa's women's basketball team. And she has big plans ahead of her! After spending several years earning hefty paychecks, Clark is currently preparing for the WNBA draft. While speaking with "Sports Center," Clark, who's the number one draft pick for 2024, revealed what she's looking forward to about going pro. "I think being ready to learn, I think that's the biggest thing," Clark said during her episode (via Iowa Hawkeyes). "I know there's a new challenge in front of me. It's a fresh chapter in life, but that's what excites me the most. It's obviously a lot different going into college, but I think that's the biggest thing, just the challenge as a competitor."

However, Clark was recently outshined by Raven Johnson, the University of South Carolina star whom Clark casually dismissed during a 2023 matchup. While Johnson went viral thanks to Clark, who downplayed her shooting ability mid-game, she redeemed herself when Iowa and North Carolina faced off on April 7, 2024. According to AP News, South Carolina beat Iowa 87-75. However, the highlight of the game for many was Johnson's incessant guarding of Clark, which contributed to her team's victory. During a post-game press conference, Johnson revealed that she was thinking, "Don't let her score." She continued, "I was ready for the moment ... I studied her moves, and I was ready. I had confidence this year. I was telling myself, last year's not going to happen again."

Raven Johnson almost quit basketball

Ahead of Raven Johnson's re-match against Caitlin Clark, who also had beef with Angel Reese, the college star revealed that she became obsessed with the viral clip of her shunning and couldn't stop watching it. "It got to the point where people were like, 'Can you stop watching that game?'" Johnson said (via Greenville News). "I was like, 'I can't.'" Caitlin Clark's diss almost made Johnson consider giving up basketball altogether. "Caitlin's competitive, so I don't blame her for what she did, but it did hurt me," Johnson added (via The Washington Post). "It definitely hurt me bad to the point that I wanted to quit basketball. I just feel like it helped me ... I feel like if I can handle that, I can handle anything in life."

Johnson's former teammate, Laeticia Amihere, also played a crucial role in her comeback. "I remember LA coming to my room and she saw me crying one day," Johnson revealed (via Greenville News). "I don't even know how she got in my room. I thought I locked the door. She got me closer to God. I started going to church and ever since then, my mindset changed." Johnson's coach, Dawn Staley, also applauded Johnson for overcoming her embarrassment and working on her game. "Raven is going to be a great player because she was able to break through that moment and catapult her into that next level now."

How people responded to Raven Johnson's comeback

Raven Johnson's unexpected comeback has commanded just as much attention as her temporary setback. For example, former NBA pro Mark Jackson recently spoke about Johnson's feat. "A year ago, Caitlin Clark stood in the paint and exposed Raven Johnson's weakness, her inability to shoot basketball," said Jackson (via SportsKeeda). "So she basically stood in paint and literally waved her hand as she dribbled at 3 point line, daring her to take a shot." He continued, "She waited for this opportunity and she worked on her game, worked on her weaknesses to make it her strength. She put on an absolute clinic yesterday in how to defend an all-time great basketball player."

Johnson also commanded compliments from Caitlin Clark herself. During a press conference, Clark spoke highly of Johnson's abilities. "I think Raven's had a tremendous year, not only as a shooter but as the point guard," said Clark (via Fox Carolina). "I really admire everything she's done this year." She continued, "That just speaks to her work ethic. She got in the gym and got better. I think that's what makes great players great and that's exactly what she did." Furthermore, Clark addressed the end of her college career in a heartfelt statement on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Words cannot express my love for my teammates, coaches, fans and our university," tweeted Clark. "Thanks for making my dreams come true. Wearing Iowa across my chest the last four years has been an honor."