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Caitlin Clark smashes another record in her unprecedented college basketball run

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Another record has fallen at the hands of Caitlin Clark. Here's the call from Fox Sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GUS JOHNSON: This for college basketball history.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASKETBALL SWISHING INTO NET)

JOHNSON: She does it with a foul shot.

(CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: Yesterday, the University of Iowa star became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division 1 basketball, men's or women's. The previous record was set by LSU's Pistol Pete Maravich and stood for more than 50 years. ESPN's Michael Voepel was in the crowd and joins us now from Iowa City. Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

MICHAEL VOEPEL: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

SHAPIRO: What was the atmosphere like last night? It was a big night not just for Clark, but also for the Hawkeyes.

VOEPEL: It really was. The Hawkeyes had a chance to avenge an earlier defeat this season against Ohio State. Buckeyes have won the Big Ten regular season. They'll be the No. 1 seed. So it was a big afternoon in terms of getting, you know, that last victory in the regular season for the Hawkeyes. And it was also their senior day.

And they all found out just a few days earlier Caitlin Clark will not be coming back for a fifth year. She made that announcement on social media. So there was a lot of emotion in the crowd just knowing this was her last regular season game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. And the fact that she passed, you know, yet another record made it even more exciting, electric. It was one of the great atmospheres I've been in.

SHAPIRO: I want to follow up on that record. But first, as you mentioned, she just announced that she's turning pro next year. She's expected to be the top pick in the WNBA draft. It seems like for all of her ascent, she has not peaked or even come close to it.

VOEPEL: That's absolutely true. And that's one of the reasons why, you know, the WNBA, which, you know, has been in existence now since 1997, has been really such a great thing for women's basketball. Because these players really are just starting to hit their peak when they're 22-, 23-years-old. And then we get to watch that now complete its way through, which didn't used to be the case. If players had a chance to play pro, for so many years it was overseas, where we really didn't get a chance to watch them develop and become professionals.

SHAPIRO: Let's talk about that record, because Pistol Pete Maravich had the title for, like, 54 years. Clark wasn't even born when Maravich died. And yet, they have similar skill sets. How do they compare on the court?

VOEPEL: They're both incredibly skilled in terms of their ball handling, their court vision, the fact that they can shoot from anywhere. One thing I think is interesting, though, obviously, is Caitlin's playing in such a different era than Pete Maravich. She's playing with a shot clock and the three-point line.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, I didn't realize those were recent inventions. He didn't have either of those, and yet he's still got this record that stood for so long.

VOEPEL: He had a different style. His style really was very ball dominant. Because of the shot clock, because of the three-point line, because of the way she plays, she very much plays within the framework of an offensive team. Pete, in some ways, was sort of a little bit of a one-man show for a lot of years with LSU. And that was, again, just the nature of the games being different.

So they have similar skill sets for their game. They're both not giants, you know what I mean? It's, like, Pete was a relatively small guy in the men's game. Caitlin is 6-foot tall. So what they do is not necessarily with dominant physical skill. It's with the skills of basketball and great court vision.

SHAPIRO: Why do you think the previous record stood for so long? - I mean, especially given that he played before there was a three-point line.

VOEPEL: Pete Maravich was - a lot of people will say - one of a kind. He averaged about 38.1 shots per game, which, you know, as a comparison, Caitlin has averaged about 19.9 shots per game for her career. So he really was ball dominant. Obviously, the fact that the best players in college don't stick around for four years - so if they were good enough to score that many points, a lot of them are only going to stay - on the men's side - only stay for one year, maybe two years. So that's part of it as well.

You know, people point out it was a different era also in this - Pete didn't play his freshman year for varsity. They didn't allow a freshman to be on varsity that year. So he only got three years at varsity, in 83 games. Again, they're very different eras. But the players themselves have a lot of similarities, and I actually think Pete would love watching Caitlin play. I think it would remind him a lot of some of the cool things that he did on the basketball court for so many years.

SHAPIRO: Michael Voepel is women's college basketball reporter for ESPN. Thanks a lot.

VOEPEL: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SNOOP DOGG SONG, "DROP IT LIKE IT'S HOT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.