What to expect, start time and players to watch; Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese

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The Indiana Fever will almost certainly select University of Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark with the top overall pick of the WNBA Draft on Monday night, setting a pro stage for the game’s most transformative player.

The annual draft, now a must-see TV event due to Clark’s immense fame, is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.

Of course, Clark isn’t the only athlete embarking on a professional career. Angel Reese of LSU announced her decision to enter the draft earlier this month via a photo shoot in Vogue.

“I’ve won a national championship, I’ve gotten (Southeastern Conference) Player of the Year, I’ve been an All-American. My ultimate goal is to be a pro — and to be one of the greatest basketball players to play, ever. I feel like I’m ready,” the dynamic, 6-foot-3 forward has said.

Standford’s Cameron Brink, Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson and South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso have all been in the discussion to be the second player off the board by Los Angeles during Monday night’s draft. Chicago has the third pick before the Sparks will be back on the clock.

If and when Clark is picked, all focus will shift to the Fever’s first preseason game, set for May 3, against the Dallas Wings in Arlington. The team’s regular-season opener is scheduled for May 14 when Indiana visits the Connecticut Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Indiana’s home opener is two days later, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, against the New York Liberty.

The Fever finished last in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference last season, winning just 13 of 40 games. But Clark’s expected arrival to Indianapolis, less than 400 miles away from Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena, has already made the Fever appointment TV.

The WNBA has scheduled 36 of Indiana’s 40 games to be shown on national broadcast and streaming partners. The Fever occupied that center stage 22 times last season.

The sharp-shooting, play-making guard from Iowa just ended the most heralded career in the history of women’s college basketball.

The two-time national player of the year brought unprecedented attention to the women’s game.

She scored 30 points in the NCAA Division I championship game, ending her career with 3,951 points, more than anyone in the history of top-flight college basketball.

But it was Clark’s dynamic style of play that captured the public’s imagination and brought record attention.

In Iowa’s national semifinal victory over perennial powerhouse Connecticut, an average of 14.2 million viewers tuned into ESPN — the most for any basketball game, college or pro, on the all-sports channel.

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And when South Carolina beat Iowa to capture the national championship, winning Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley took time in her post-game comments to thank Clark for contributions to the game.

Clark appeared on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend and scored plenty of laughs, roasting “Weekend Update” co-anchor Michael Che and his long history of jokes about women’s sports.

After the laughs, Clark ended the segment with a heartfelt thank you to pioneers of the women’s game.

“Thanks to all the great players like Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, the great Dawn Staley and my basketball hero, Maya Moore,” Clark said.

“These are the women that kicked down the door so I could walk inside,” she continued. “So I want to thank them tonight for laying the foundation.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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