April 16, 2024

Lakers’ LeBron James: ‘Icons’ like Angel Reese, Caitlin Clark lifting women’s hoops

WASHINGTON — Count LeBron James among the many scores of viewers tuning into the women’s NCAA event this spring. The Los Angeles Lakers ahead, thought of by many to be the face of the NBA, has a concept on why women’s school hoops is having such a second: the star energy.

“I don’t think there’s much difference between the men’s and women’s game when it comes to college basketball,” James stated after the Lakers’ 125-120 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. “I feel the recognition is available in with the icons that they’ve within the women’s sport. You take a look at Angel Reese, you take a look at JuJu [Watkins], you take a look at Caitlin Clark, you take a look at Paige [Bueckers]. You take a look at the younger lady that is at Iowa State, the freshman there [Audi Crooks]. You take a look at [Cameron] Brink … at Stanford. And that is simply to call just a few. And the freshman that is at Notre Dame [Hannah Hidalgo]. Because they don’t seem to be allowed to go to the NBA [after their freshman year].”

Monday’s Elite Eight sport between Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes and Reese’s LSU Tigers attracted a mean of 12.3 million viewers on ESPN. Only one sport within the males’s NCAA event accounted for extra: Duke vs. NC State, with a visit to the Final Four on the road, at 15.1 million viewers.

While the barrier for gamers to enter the NBA is to finish a 12 months of faculty or be 19 years outdated, the WNBA requires NCAA gamers to show 22 within the calendar 12 months of the draft they intend to enter to be eligible or to have exhausted collegiate eligibility. International gamers should flip 20 the 12 months of the draft they intend to enter.

James stated the advantage of required longevity earlier than turning professional is clear for the school sport.

“You’re able to build a real iconic legacy at a program,” James stated. “And that’s what we all love about it. That’s what we all love. We love the girl’s game because of that moment you actually get to see those girls [build to]. That’s what makes the girl’s Final Four and the Elite Eight so great. Yeah, Iowa was a great team; Caitlin Clark is the reason we tuned in. You’re going to watch Purdue due to Zach Edey, as a result of he is an amazing participant. We watched that Purdue-Tennessee sport due to Zach Edey and [Dalton] Knecht.”

“Players, depending on who they are, will drive the attention when it comes to viewership.”

However, James identified what he perceived to be a catch to the state of affairs the present batch of women’s school stars discover themselves in. They are rising curiosity of their tourney to unprecedented heights, however is it on the expense of their private alternatives?

James introduced up Watkins — who signed with the identical company that represents him, Klutch Sports — and averaged 27.1 factors, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a pair of.3 steals in main USC to the Elite Eight and an eventual loss to UConn.

“It’s just a different time between the men’s and women’s,” James stated. “And men can come out after their freshman year. If I have a big-ass season after my freshman year of college basketball, I’m going to the league. If a girl has a great season — like JuJu. JuJu, she can’t come out. If she could, you think she might. Maybe. But that’s the difference.”