Caitlin Clark. Angel Reese. Kamilla Cardoso. Paige Bueckers.

Excitement for the future of women’s basketball is at an all-time high, and the rising stars of the game were shining brighter than ever during the NCAA Women’s Final Four this year in Cleveland.

With all eyes on the college basketball world during the first weekend of April, the NBRPA was at the center of all the action both on and off the court with the return of the Women’s College All-Star Game and the women-focused NBRPA Health Screenings.

To tip off the weekend’s events, the NBRPA supported an exclusive dinner, hosted by our partners at Intersport, to welcome participants of the 2024 Women’s College All-Star Game to Cleveland. This premier showcase of elite female DI basketball players marked the return of the event to Final Four weekend for the first time in 18 years. During the welcome dinner, WNBA Legends Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Rushia Brown mingled with the 20 senior standouts selected to participate in the Women’s College All-Star Game, discussing basketball and encouraging the young women to pursue their dreams, whether that be on or off the court following their college graduation.

Nearby at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse that evening, #1 seed South Carolina defeated #3 seed NC State, followed by #1 Iowa taking down #3 UConn in front of a sold-out crowd, setting up an exciting National Championship showdown between the Dawn Staley-led 2022 National Champion Gamecocks and the Hawkeyes seeking their first national title.

The following morning, the NBRPA brought its women-focused Health Screenings to the Women’s Final Four in partnership with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

This important initiative marked the second year the NBRPA expanded its Health Screenings program to include testing and consultations with a specific focus on women’s health, providing WNBA Legends and WBCA coaches alike with comprehensive check-ups to ensure their long-term health and wellness.

All morning long, former players and coaches made their way through their individual screenings, then grabbed coffee and breakfast while relaxing and catching up with their friends and former teammates.

Once the Health Screenings concluded, the momentum of the weekend shifted to the Women’s College All-Star Game, held on Saturday afternoon at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center. Eager basketball fans filed into the arena to see the rising stars of the game, as well as the star-studded lineup of coaches on Team Lieberman and Team Miller.

Nancy Lieberman, a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, led Team Lieberman along with her son and professional basketball player, T.J. Cline, as well as WNBA and Cleveland Rockers Legend Janice Braxton. Cheryl Miller, a Hall of Famer and USC Legend, was at the helm for Team Miller and was assisted by Hall of Famer and four-time WNBA Champion Cynthia Cooper-Dyke as well as current WNBA star and two-time WNBA Champion with the Las Vegas Aces, Kelsey Plum.

As the game action tipped off on ESPN2, energetic fans celebrated every exciting steal, jumper, and rebound in a hotly contested battle among 20 of the country’s top senior hoopers. Current Indiana Fever stars Aliyah Boston and Erica Wheeler, future teammates to #1 overall 2024 WNBA Draft pick Caitlin Clark, sat courtside along with Atlanta Dream shooting guard Rhyne Howard to enjoy game action as well as sign autographs and take selfies with young fans during halftime.

Team Miller finished the first quarter with a 31-13 advantage and extended the lead to 35-15 with just over eight minutes remaining in the second quarter. However, Team Lieberman slowly chipped away at the lead through the game, outscoring Team Miller 25-18 in the second quarter, 27-22 in the third, and 30-17 in the final period.

In the second half, Team Lieberman stormed all the way back to earn a 95-88 victory over Team Miller in the 2024 Women’s College All-Star Game.

It was St. John’s Unique Drake who stood out among the rest, earning Most Valuable Player honors after finishing with a game-high 27 points on 12-of-21 from the floor. She also added three assists, three steals and a pair of rebounds.

Three other Team Lieberman stars finished in double figures, including 19 points and seven assists from Syracuse’s Dyaisha Fair, 12 points from Virginia’s Camryn Taylor and 11 points from Louisville’s Sydney Taylor.

For Team Miller, five players scored in double figures, led by BYU All-American Lauren Gustin’s 15-point, 15-rebound effort. Auburn’s Honesty Scott-Grayson finished with 14, Indiana’s Sara Scalia and Toledo’s Quinesha Lockett each had 11 and Baylor’s Dre’Una Edwards had 10.

The weekend’s action came to an exciting conclusion on Sunday as the Iowa Hawkeyes and South Carolina Gamecocks fought for the title in a rematch of their 2023 Final Four matchup in which the Hawkeyes upset the undefeated Gamecocks. History would not repeat itself this year, as South Carolina’s physicality and deep bench proved to be too much for Iowa to handle.

Iowa got out to an early 10-point lead and held off South Carolina until the end of the second quarter, when the Gamecocks would reclaim the lead and maintain it the rest of the game. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark put up 18 points in the first quarter –– the most in a period in the National Championship game –– to break Chamique Holdsclaw’s record for most career points in a NCAA tournament.

This time around, South Carolina completed their undefeated season with a 87-75 win and secured their third title (2017, 2022, 2024) under Head Coach and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley. The MVP was Kamilla Cardoso, who scored 15 points and had 17 rebounds, and would soon after get drafted as the #3 overall 2024 WNBA Draft pick by the Chicago Sky.

Women’s Final Four weekend never disappoints, and this year’s exceeded all expectations with thrilling game action and valuable NBRPA programming. As future Legends continue to emerge and the game continues to grow exponentially, we’re all tremendously privileged to witness history in the making.