The UConn women’s basketball team has been to the Final Four each of the past 10 seasons, winning six National Championships.
Saturday, the undefeated and top-ranked Aquinas High School girls basketball team will face one of UConn’s recruits in 5-foot-11 sophomore guard Caitlin Clark.
“This doesn’t meant to sound disrespectful, but she plays like a guy,” Aquinas coach Dave Donarski said of Clark, who is the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country for 2020. “So she creates separation with stepbacks through the legs, around the back, she can finish with floaters. She really has a diverse skill set when it comes to what she can do offensively.
Clark averages 27 points for Dowling Catholic (17-2) out of Des Moines, Iowa. Aquinas (19-0) is the No. 1-ranked team in Division 4. Its closest game this season was a 64-57 win over Onalaska last week. Before that, its closest game was 14 points — also against the Hilltoppers, who are ranked fourth in Division 2.
Like that matchup, Donarski sees Saturday’s road trip as a primer for the postseason.
“We play in those bigger games, it allows your kids to settle in quicker when it comes to playing for an opportunity to go to state or at state,” he said. “And, the only way to do that is to simulate those situations. To do that, you find the best competition you can.”
Aquinas has played four opponents this season ranked in the Top 5 in their respective divisions.
Along with UConn, Clark is also being recruited by Notre Dame. It’s a game Donarski says he doesn’t have to do much as a coach to get his team psyched up.
“I’m happy to say they’re very much bought in and from a competitive standpoint, they know who Caitlin Clark is,” he said. “You have a kid that’s being recruited from UConn and Notre Dame, some of the greatest schools in the country for women’s basketball. We’ll be amped up.”
Clark is the 2nd leading scorer in the entire state of Iowa. Donarski says several of his players have played her on the AAU circuit, diminishing the shock-and-awe factor.
-Drew Kelly. Email: Drew@580WKTY.com