We Want Ms. Clark!: Cameron Brink ACL and Rhyne Howard Leg Injury Could Spell Doom For USA 3×3 Team, Which Won’t Be Replacing Them With Caitlin Clark

Los Angeles Sparks rookie Cameron Brink, one of the first-year WNBA players that have helped the league capture an entire generation of new fans, was playing effectively this season and preparing for the 3×3 Women’s Olympic team in Paris this summer. 

In an unfortunate twist of events, the 22-year-old godsister of Steph Curry suffered a torn ACL during a game against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday, June 18, after she slipped while making contact with Sun forward Brionna Jones. 

Following the play, Brink was helped off the court and carried to the locker room by her teammates. With her Olympic dreams now shattered, Brink still attempted to put a positive spin on the situation. 

“You never think it will happen to you,” the No. 2 pick of the 2024 WNBA draft wrote on Instagram Wednesday, June 19. “And despite all the hard work sometimes it does. This is hard to fathom but I know it will only make me stronger.”

Brink continued, “I will not be derailed and I will continue to love this life — I’m not defined by basketball, but it is something that I love deeply, and I will work every day to get back to it. It’s not goodbye basketball it’s just a see you later. I’m always so thankful for your thoughts and prayers. 💜💛 #delayednotdenied”

Who Will Replace Cameron Brink On 3×3 Team?

With Brink sidelined, conversation has begun concerning who will replace her on the US Team. Of course, Caitlin Clark’s name came up.

When the Indiana Fever rookie was not selected for the women’s Olympic 5×5 squad, a large section of social media who have become enthralled and captivated by Clark and the attention she is getting from fans and corporate went crazy, criticizing everyone from head coach Cheryl Reeve to the Olympic selection committee. 

Clark is the most popular player in the WNBA right now, and she is the front-runner currently for Rookie of the Year. Brink was a top 3 contender for that award, along with Angel Reese, so Clark has less competition going forward. 

So Why Not Clark? 

According to FIBA eligibility for the Olympic 3×3 roster, two of the four players must be ranked inside the top 10 of their country’s talent pool. The other two must be ranked inside the top 50. But to gain those ranking points, the player needed to previously compete in 3×3 events. Clark has not played in any 3×3 competitions, which would leave her ineligible as a roster candidate.

Clark unfortunately does not fit this criteria, although the fans probably don’t care and want to see the league’s most popular player on the big stage. 

Candidates that fall within the criteria and are more likely to make the team include Clark’s teammate Aliyah Boston, Allisha Gray, L.A. Sparks star Dearica Hamby and somebody named Betnijah-Laney Hamilton, who I’m sure 99 percent of WNBA fans have never heard of. 

Everybody from Charles Barkley to the bank teller were complaining that Clark got “snubbed” from the 5×5 team. There were those who also pushed back against it, defending WNBA’s all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi, who for some reason, people felt should be taken off the team for Clark. It became the focus of sports conversation with people on both sides of the fence. 

When Brink went down, without knowing the rules, of course Caitlin Clark’s name quickly was offered as a replacement. It’s wild, because some sports fans are more concerned with her well-being and how she’s being treated after received her $28 million Nike contract and joining the WNBA, than their own kids. 

People who still to this day have never watched a WNBA game are willing to ride for CC just because. 

The US Women’s Basketball team has won every gold medal since 1996, so as much as fans would have liked to see Clark play, she’s not needed on a team that is loaded. 

Basketball-wise, even if Clark was eligible for 3×3 participation, her game doesn’t really fit with how the team is constructed. They have Hailey Van Lith to handle the ball and another big was needed to replace Brink, who is 6 feet 4, a rim protector and supreme shot blocker with three-point range as well. 

Clark was one of many members of the WNBA community that sent well-wishes to the No. 2 overall pick and said that they were roommates on the road in Thailand when they were 17 years old. So there’s a relationship there.

“I know she’s the type of person to be able to get through it and come out through it stronger,” Clark said. “But yeah, I mean, it breaks your heart. She’s such a good basketball player but an even better person. Obviously, knowing her, being one of my friends, kind of going through this process together.” 

Rhyne Howard Goes Down Too

As if the injury to Cameron Brink wasn’t devastating enough, Atlanta Dream baller Rhyne Howard, who is also on the 3×3 team and is her team’s leading scorer with 15.4 points per game, exited the game in the third quarter with a lower-leg injury.

Atlanta head coach Tanisha Wright said Howard would be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Howard is the second member of the U.S. Olympic women’s 3×3 team to go down in as many days. Not a good sign for Team USA, but the talent pool in U.S. women’s hoops is very deep, so, if Howard can’t go that just creates more storylines for the league and more arguments about who should replace the two players. 

Stay tuned.

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