Are Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark on their way to fantasy stardom?

1:48 PM ET

Andre SnellingsESPN

When Angel Reese’s LSU Tigers defeated Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes in the NCAA tournament championship game, it became the single most watched game in women’s NCAA basketball history. In the wake of the victory, Reese and Clark have broken the internet with discussions about their fire, swagger and impressive skills on the basketball court.

Make no mistake, these are two of the best players in women’s basketball today, and they still have another full year of college hoops to dominate before they take their talents to the next level.

While I can’t wait to see these two titans run it back next season, let’s take a sneak peek today at what we have to look forward to when they join the professional ranks. Spoiler alert: Both players are set to change the game, impacting the way women’s basketball is played and marketed in the best way possible.

The next Steph

Clark earned the Naismith Award this season as the best women’s college basketball player in the country. She averaged 27.8 PPG, 8.6 APG, 7.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG and 0.5 BPG, numbers slightly better than but right in line with what she has produced all three seasons of her college career. But the skill that sets Clark apart from her peers and pretty much any of her illustrious predecessors is her shooting ability and parking lot range.

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Clark averaged 3.7 3PG on 9.5 3PA, knocking down a strong 38.9% from behind the arc. Two things of note, right off the bat: 1) this wasn’t the best 3-point shooting performance of her career, as she knocked down 3.9 3PG on 40.6% as a freshman, and 2) these were not easy looks.

Clark creates her own looks from downtown off the bounce and step-back a large percentage of the time, she has demonstrated consistent logo range on her treys, and she also works to run off a series of screens to get just the hint of a look and… splash!

Let’s stay with the splash theme, because the NBA player who comes to mind when watching Clark play is the Splash Brother himself, Stephen Curry. This comp can be incredibly informative, because Curry has revolutionized the NBA game by stretching the court in ways that had never been seen. While the NBA had traditionally been a big-man-dominated league, Curry has dominated from the outside in, warping defenses away from the rim and making life so much easier on his teammates.

Curry’s dominance has shown up in ESPN’s real plus-minus (RPM) stat that correlates a player’s presence on the court with changes in their team’s scoring margin. Curry has led the NBA in offensive RPM in seven of the past 10 seasons. His offensive explosiveness, particularly from deep, has been the foundation for the Warriors’ dynasty that has produced four NBA championships.

Back to Clark. There have been only two women to make at least three 3-pointers per game in the past 15 seasons, and only Diana Taurasi has done it in more than one season. Taurasi is, not coincidentally, the leading scorer in WNBA history — great at both shooting and taking the ball to the rim for a balanced attack that has her in GOAT conversations.

But Clark’s shooting ability, both her range and the way she has able to create her own looks, gives her the potential to dominate from long range in a way that even Taurasi didn’t. Like Curry in the NBA, Clark has the potential to attack from so far out that opposing defenses aren’t equipped to handle it.

If she brings that level of 3-point dominance to the WNBA, Clark has the real chance to be a sea-change disruptor of the way the game is played.

‘Bayou Barbie’

Meanwhile, Angel Reese was named the Most Outstanding Player of the women’s NCAA tournament, which came on the heels of her own historic season. Reese averaged 23.0 PPG and 15.4 RPG, becoming the first collegiate woman in more than 15 seasons to reach both of those marks. She recorded 34 double-doubles this season, an NCAA single-season record.

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But, let’s be clear: Reese isn’t a traditional stay-on-the-blocks center. Standing 6-foot-3, in her own words, she is growing into a stretch-four, a power forward who can operate out of the face-up even from the perimeter. That is her desired position at the next level, producing all around from the 4 in the mold of a Candace Parker. It is exceedingly rare to see 20-10 double-double seasons in the WNBA, and no player has averaged a 23-point double-double going back through at least the 2007 season.

But as outstanding as Reese’ performance has been on the court, she also has the potential to change the way the WNBA is marketed as one of the most charismatic superstars their game has seen. This season, the Bayou Barbie has more name, image and likeness (NIL) deals than any other college basketball player, male or female, and the fifth-most of any NCAA athlete from any sport.

The WNBA is a brilliant, electric league to which the country is paying more and more attention. Sue Bird’s commercials are ubiquitous these days, with my personal favorite the one where her password for delivery people to get into her house was GOAT. Jonquel Jones and Chiney Ogwumike have hilarious insurance commercials all over the airwaves.

But Reese has charisma and a following (more than 1.7 million followers on IG and TikTok) that will follow her to the WNBA. She can make history both on and off the court at the next level.

Bottom line

Clark and Reese are two of the best basketball players in the world. They are both coming off historic seasons, and will return to the NCAA next season with the chance to deliver one of the great rivalries in college hoops history.

And that’s just the start.

Because at this time next season, both will be getting ready to head into the WNBA as two of the most promising players the game has seen. And the women’s game, both on and off the court, may never be the same.

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