Iowa women’s basketball adds high-scoring point guard Lucy Olsen from Villanova

The Caitlin Clark era has produced a euphoric and unprecedented ride for the Iowa women’s basketball program, especially over the last two years.

But at some point, the Hawkeyes were going to have to move on from the world’s most famous college athlete and Division I’s all-time scoring leader.

And while Clark will never be replaced, Iowa’s coaching staff (and the Iowa SWARM Collective) has done about as good as it can do via the NCAA transfer portal.

Lucy Olsen averaged 23.3 points per game last season for Villanova. On Wednesday, she comitted to Iowa.

Lisa Bluder’s Hawkeyes have successfully added Villanova point guard Lucy Olsen to their 2024-25 roster. Olsen, the nation’s third-leading scorer last season as a junior (behind only Clark and USC’s JuJu Watkins), announced her commitment to Iowa on Wednesday night. She has one year of eligibility remaining.

Olsen made an official visit to Iowa City on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Iowa’s rousing night in the WNBA Draft that saw Clark go No. 1 overall to the Indiana Fever and Kate Martin No. 18 to the Las Vegas Aces. According to a source, she sealed the deal with Iowa on Wednesday afternoon.

This is a tremendous transfer-portal get for Iowa, the biggest of the Bluder era. Olsen, the 2021 Miss Basketball in Pennsylvania, averaged 23.3 points per game last season for the Wildcats, who went 22-13 and made the WBIT championship game. The 5-foot-9 point guard also averaged 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

Olsen shot 48.9% from 2-point range and 29.4% from 3-point range last season, proving to be an especially potent scorer in the mid-range game.

Obviously, her 55 3-pointers in 35 games is a vast difference from Clark’s NCAA-record 201 3s in 39 games this past season. So, Olsen will be a different type of point guard for the Hawkeyes.

But Olsen undoubtedly brings experience and fills the biggest need on the Hawkeyes’ 2023-24 roster, especially with incoming four-star point guard Aaliyah Guyton recovering from a torn ACL. Olsen’s arrival allows Guyton to get fully healthy before Iowa needs to rely on a true freshman in such a high-profile position.

It’s not difficult to imagine a starting lineup that includes Olsen at the 1, Taylor McCabe or Kylie Feuerbach at the 2, Sydney Affolter at the 3, Hannah Stuelke at the 4 and incoming top-40 recruit Ava Heiden at the 5.

ESPN ranked Olsen as the No. 5 overall prospect in the transfer portal, and she will provide a perfect bridge to get Guyton healthy and to welcome Addie Deal, ESPN’s No. 12 overall recruit in the Class of 2025 who has committed to Iowa.

The Hawkeyes were scheduled to host Kentucky point guard Maddie Scherr on Thursday, but their final remaining scholarship is now spoken for.

Olsen is familiar with taking over for a high-scoring departure. She averaged 12.4 points per game as a sophomore while playing alongside Maddy Siegrist, who wound up leading the nation in 2022-23 (yes, even ahead of Clark) at 29.0 points per game. Now, Olsen takes over for Clark, who amassed a record 3,951 points and 1,144 assists (No. 3 all-time) in her 139 career games.

Barring any other departures, Iowa is now full with 15 scholarships for the 2024-25 season. The one Olsen is grabbing was opened up with Sharon Goodman’s decision to graduate a year early and move on to nursing school.

And now, with Olsen’s pledge, the Hawkeyes are poised to be a much more viable national player next season. Talent is required to succeed, and Olsen will become a high-level distributor and scorer for the two-time defending national runners-up.

Iowa’s 2024-25 schedule features a lot of high-profile nonconference games already, including Nov. 10 against Virginia Tech in the Ally Tipoff in Charlotte; against Nov. 20 vs. Kansas in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; the Nov. 28-30 Women’s Cancun Challenge (against opponents TBD) in Mexico; and Dec. 7 vs. Tennessee at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Women’s Champions Classic.

Of course, the Hawkeyes will also play their usual round-robin of in-state teams, including Drake (road), Iowa State (home) and Northern Iowa (home).

Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has served for 29 years with The Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Sports Network. Chad is the 2023 INA Iowa Sports Columnist of the Year and NSMA Co-Sportswriter of the Year in Iowa.

Join Chad’s text-message group (free for subscribers) at Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.

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