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Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark and Fever coach Christie Sides spoke on Sunday for the first time since news broke that the No. 1 overall pick had not made Team USA’s final roster for the 2024 Olympics in Paris next month. While Clark was as even-keeled as always in her reaction, Sides gave away her star’s immediate reaction to the news.

“She got the call on the bus and she texted me to let me know and I just tried to keep her spirits up,” Sides said. “The thing she said was ‘hey coach, they woke a monster,’ which I thought was awesome.”

An official roster announcement is not expected until Tuesday, but news of Clark’s omission came out shortly after midnight on Saturday, and the full roster followed a few hours later. As expected, the team is made up of MVPs, All-WNBA stalwarts and future Hall of Famers, including A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Alyssa Thomas, and Napheesa Collier, just to name a few.

Team USA may have 'woke a monster' by not picking Caitlin Clark for Olympics  - The Athletic

The level of talent and experience — no players are younger than 26 — is one of the main reasons Clark said she had “no disappointment” about not making the cut.

“I’m excited for the girls that are on the team,” Clark said. “I know it’s the most competitive team in the world and I know it could have gone either way of me being on the team, me not being on the team. I’m excited for them, gonna be rooting them on to win gold. I was a kid who grew up watching the Olympics, so it’ll be fun to watch them.

“I think it just gives you something to work for. It’s a dream, hopefully one day I can be there and I think it’s just a little more motivation. You remember that and hopefully in four years I can be there.”

Clark was invited to the most recent training camp in April, which would have been her first experience with the senior national team, but was unable to participate due to the Final Four. Even so, she gave herself a real chance to make the squad with an impressive start to her rookie campaign.

She’s averaging 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists and is on pace to be the fifth player in league history to put up a 15/5/5 season. Among rookies she’s first in scoring and assists and fourth in rebounds; among all players she’s 13th in scoring, fourth in assists and second in made 3s.

There have been times where she’s struggled with the physicality, however, and she also leads the league in turnovers at 5.6 per game. Those factors, combined with the talent and experience ahead of her, appear to be the reason she failed to make the cut. Per USA Today’s Christine Brennan, Team USA veterans were also concerned about how Clark’s legion of fans would react if she was selected but received limited playing time.

Clark did not get into any specifics regarding the decision, but she did say that USA Basketball called to deliver the news before it leaked on social media.

If there’s a silver lining for Clark, it’s that she’ll finally get a break when the WNBA pauses for the Olympics. She’s been playing essentially nonstop since her senior season at Iowa began in October. Once the Fever wrap up their pre-Olympic schedule July 17, they won’t play again until Aug. 16.

“Yeah, absolutely [I’m looking forward to a break],” Clark said. “It’s gonna be really nice. I’ve loved competing at every single second, but it’s gonna be a great month for me and my body to first of all get rest and get healthy and get a little time away from basketball and the craziness of everything that’s been going on. Just find some peace and quiet for myself.”

There is still a slight possibility that Clark could make the team as an injury replacement. Notably, Chelsea Gray was selected but has not played in a game in eight months due to a foot injury and it’s unclear when she’ll be back. As one of the best playmakers in the world, Clark could be next in line if the veteran point guard isn’t healthy in time.

Of course, that’s a big “if,” and while Clark said it would be a “great opportunity,” she’s focused on the Fever and trying to climb out of 11th place.

“If USA Basketball needs something, I have a great relationship with them, but the 12 they have selected are really great players so I think they’re in pretty great hands,” Clark said. “Cheryl [Reeve] is a great coach, the selection committee did a really good job.”