UConn’s Geno Auriemma has sure changed his tune since HS on Caitlin Clark

Auriemma put his star player above Clark. Was that the right move in the end?

Iowa v UConn
Iowa v UConn / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Caitlin Clark grew up dreaming of going to UConn and playing for legendary head coach Geno Auriemma. She watched the UConn dynasty in the 2010s and dreamed of being part of that history.

Except in high school, Clark was recruited by many schools across the nation, UConn was just never one of those.

"Honestly," Clark said in an ESPN profile last month, "it was more I wanted them to recruit me to say I got recruited. I loved UConn. I think they're the coolest place on Earth, and I wanted to say I got recruited by them."

Paige Bueckers from Hopkins High in Minnesota, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2020 and a point guard, was the Huskies target instead. The others on their recruiting board were Hailey Van Lith, the No. 7 recruit, and Azzi Fudd, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2021. The program landed Fudd but not Van Lith.

UConn HC Geno Auriemma changes his tune on Caitlin Clark

Clark ended up staying home and chose Iowa, and since that choice, she has amazed the nation. She became the all-time leading scorer in women's college basketball history and has now guided her team to two Final Fours.

Auriemma was asked about Clark in his post-game press conference after his squad beat No. 1 seed USC to advance to the Final Four, where it will face Clark and the Hawkeyes.

Prior to that press conference he called Bueckers the "best player in America."

He still stands by his opinion.

"If you go by stats, efficiency, the entire box score, and what she means to our team, I think she's done more for our team than anybody," Auriemma said. "I wouldn't trade her for anybody else." 

When Clark first faced UConn it was when the Huskies ended Iowas tournament run in 2021. Auriemma had words of encouragement for Clark after the game.

"He said, 'What you've done for Iowa this season has really been something special, and you have a bright future' — and to hear him say that to me really meant something," Clark said after the 2021 game. "I'm very thankful for that."

The second time Clark faced the Huskies was when she was a junior in the regular season, where UConn won by seven. But in that game, Clark had 25 points.

It's a "what could have been" situation for the Huskies. You can bet that if there is one recruit that Auriemma wishes he could get back, it's probably Clark.

Now UConn and Iowa will play in the second game of Friday night's Final Four doubleheader, with Clark looking for her revenge and hopes to head to the national championship for another year.