Caitlin Clark will always have eyeballs on her, whether she is on the court or handling a press conference with the Indiana Fever. Fair or not, such is life as a transcendent star and the No. 1 overall pick in the most recent WNBA Draft.

With that kind of attention, every response Clark gives to the media will be scrutinized by fans. That makes her early media sessions as a 22-year-old rookie all the more impressive, including her comments from Sunday.

Fresh off a 30-point game in a road victory over the Washington Mystics, Clark and the rest of the basketball world received reports Saturday that she was being left off the Team USA roster for the Summer Olympics. Though young and unlikely to have a major role on a veteran-laden roster, there has been some precedent for the Olympic roster to include the reigning National Player of the Year.

In response to the news, Clark said Sunday that she’s “excited for the girls on the team” and called it the “most competitive team in the world.” She also downplayed any disappointment to the decision but admitted some motivation has been added.

“Honestly, no disappointment. I think it just gives me something to shoot for,” Clark explained. “It’s a dream and maybe one day I can be there. I think it’s just a little more motivation, you remember that and hopefully in 4 years I can be there.”

While Clark’s answer downplayed the decision, Fever head coach Christie Sides revealed Clark referenced the decision from the selection committee as “waking a monster” moving forward.

“We talked on the bus, she got the call on the bus, and she texted me to let me know,” said Sides. “Just try to keep her spirits up. The one thing she said is hey coach they woke a monster which I think is awesome.”

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Navigating the spotlight

Dating back to her time at Iowa, Clark has shown an adeptness at balancing the spotlight and carefully measuring her responses to the media. Now in the WNBA, and with Team USA involved, Clark has continued to handle the spotlight with the careful touch of a veteran.

This also involves the recent drama involving Chennedy Carter and the hard, blindside foul Carter delivered. Later upgraded to a flagrant, Clark downplayed the incident, even after Carter avoided discussing the matter or even answering any questions related to Clark in her postgame press conference.

All that to say it’s tough to believe Clark has zero disappointment about being left off the Team USA roster, especially considering the case that can be made for her deserving a roster spot.

Clark isn’t lying when she says a month of rest away from basketball would be helpful and beneficial. (Remember that her senior season at Iowa and run to the national championship game was followed quickly by training camp and the WNBA season.)

She also isn’t when she says this year’s decision will be motivation for future endeavors.

But zero disappointment? That’s not reality for a player of Clark’s stature and demeanor, but it illustrates she understands what is at stake overall.

Right or wrong, certain fans would undoubtedly crush Clark if she expressed frustration at Team USA’s decision. Frustration is a typical emotion for any player in that situation, superstar or otherwise, but claims of entitled and over emotional would undoubtedly follow negative comments from Clark.

Clark is not unaware of any of this, and she understands the added burden she carries as the face of women’s basketball heading into the future. So far, she’s carried that mantle superbly, and even a disappointing decision from Team USA is not going to bring her down.