Jay Williams on ESPN's "College GameDay." Jay Williams on ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

While individual definitions of greatness vary, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark etched her name in history on Thursday night.

Surpassing all previous scorers, she now reigns as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball. This achievement garnered her commendation from Shaquille O’Neal, a legend of the game himself, who boldly went on the record and declared her the greatest collegiate player in women’s basketball history.

Not everyone shares Shaq’s enthusiasm. Analysts like Jay Williams hold off on bestowing the “great” title on Clark until she secures a championship victory.

Sorry, Dan Marino and Charles Barkley.

“I think she is the Stephen Curry of women’s college basketball,” began Williams on Saturday’s edition of ESPN’s College GameDay. “I think she has changed the dynamic of the way the game is played. I think the way she plays — the pizzazz — she’s probably the most prolific scorer the game of basketball has ever seen. I am unwilling — and maybe it’s more the Kobe (Bryant) mentorship around me — to say that she is great yet.

“I think she’s the most prolific scorer the game has ever seen. I hold great, or the levels of immortality or the pantheon, to when you win championships. That’s just me. So, Diana Taurasi, when you win three consecutive championships, two-time National Player of the Year, it has to culminate with a chip; it has to. I mean, Breanna Stewart, if we’re talking about GOAT, legends of the game, she’s won four chips — four chips, multiple National Players of the Year.

“I’m not saying that she’s not at a high, high, high level, but for it to go to the state of immortality — in my opinion — it has to culminate with your team winning a championship.”

Jay Bilas injected a different perspective, acknowledging the “greatest” debate while highlighting Clark’s unique impact. He stated that while her claim to the “greatest” title might be debatable, her undeniable influence on the cultural landscape of basketball sets her apart as a phenomenon unlike any witnessed before.

It wasn’t just Bilas who pushed back at Williams.

While Williams highlighted UConn champions Taursisi and Stewart, Clark took a different path. This hometown hero from Des Moines chose to stay close to her roots, committing to the University of Iowa over Notre Dame, Iowa State and offers from powerhouses like Texas, Oregon, Duke, and Florida. A highly-touted recruit, Clark was ranked among the nation’s best, averaging an impressive 32.5 points per game senior year and earning numerous accolades, including Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year and All-State honors.

Instead of joining a powerhouse program like UConn or South Carolina, Clark opted to forge her own path at Iowa, becoming a cornerstone for their turnaround. While championships ultimately define success in basketball — at least in Williams’ eyes — it’s important to remember the sport’s inherent team nature. While winning a title might elude her critics, Clark’s singular effort has undeniably propelled Iowa into the national spotlight.

Personal definitions of greatness vary, but Williams presents contradicting views when praising Clark as the most prolific scorer ever while simultaneously denying her greatness for not achieving a team-dependent accomplishment like a championship.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter/X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.