Caitlin Clark is a transcendent performer in college basketball. Already, Clark has shattered records throughout her Iowa career as one of the best all-time players in the sport.

Now, Clark is heading back to the Final Four in search of her first national championship ring. It will be her final shot at a championship with the Hawkeyes as she already confirmed her plans to leave for the WNBA Draft after this season.

Considering her lengthy list of accolades, it’s worth entertaining the discussion about Clark as one of the GOAT figures in the sport. The win over LSU is a big step, but Clark undoubtedly needs at least one championship to try and claim the label. However, even one title for Clark will not change Rebecca Lobo’s stance on the matter.

During Tuesday’s broadcast of ESPN’s “Get Up,” Lobo said the discussion around the GOAT must include players with multiple championships to their credit. She included Candace Parker and a pair of UConn stars in the segment.

“She is the best offensive player that I have ever seen, at least in the last 30 years that I have been playing or polling college basketball games. When you get into the GOAT conversation, does she need to win a national championship in order to be considered? I don’t think so,” said Lobo. “I think she needs to win MULTIPLE national championships to be in that kind of conversation.

“Candace Parker won 2 championships at Tennessee, Diana Taurasi won 3 championships at UConn… Breanna Stewart won 4 national championships (at UConn).”

Lobo has a point, but context matters

We can agree on one thing: To be the true GOAT of a sport, a player has to have at least one championship to their credit. That’s pretty simple. However, simply putting most championships as a piece of the puzzle muddies the waters. (Lobo’s ties to UConn should also be considered when examining her comments on the subject.)

Parker was impressive at Tennessee. However, she played with a wealth of WNBA pieces around her with the Lady Vols.

The same goes for Taurasi and Stewart while at UConn. In fact, Taurasi was 1 of 4 Huskies to average more than 14 points during UConn’s national title season in 2001-02. While a number of those pieces graduated after the 2002 title, another group of budding future WNBA performers joined Taurasi for the next few seasons.

Stewart going 4-for-4 on rings certainly carries some weight, but the supporting cast also plays a role here. She joined UConn with fellow freshmen Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, a pair of players who would also move on to the WNBA, and that trio was just the tip of the talent iceberg for the Huskies during their dominant stretch.

While the full story is yet to be written on Clark’s teammates, she has so far outperformed those previous stalwarts without a similar supporting cast. That’s not a shot at Clark’s teammates, but it’s easy to see how WNBA-caliber talent can make life easier for any leader.

In fact, LSU head coach Kim Mulkey summed it up perfectly after the Tigers fell to the Hawkeyes Monday night. Mulkey praised Clark’s ability to make everyone around her better, and the significance of Clark’s latest performance extends beyond her scoring.

Yes, Clark now has 441 career points in the NCAA Tournament (that is just 38 points shy of the DI record). However, she dished out 12 assists Monday night, setting the career tournament record with 140 assists in the process. Clark also tied the NCAA Tournament single-game record for made 3-pointers (9) and produced the 2nd-ever 40-10 game in tournament history. (She holds the other from last season’s Elite 8 win, a 41-point triple-double vs. Louisville.)

And, if the personal accolades aren’t enough, the competition faced should also be considered. At various level of expectations, those teams that included Parker, Taurasi and Stewart were considered favorites to win. Even as a 1-seed this season and 2-seed last year, that has not been the case for Clark’s teams.

Last year, Iowa went toe-to-toe with a 36-0 South Carolina team who was favored to beat the Hawkeyes and win another title for Dawn Staley. Clark responded with 41 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds to reach the championship game. While Iowa lost to LSU in the final, that performance against the Gamecock juggernaut has to be considered.

Then, there’s this year’s path to a potential title for Clark. Though entering the Final Four as a 3-seed, Geno Auriemma’s UConn program is among the most historically dominant programs at any level of sports. Iowa is -2.5 for that game per ESPN Bet, but you can count on Auriemma having his Huskies ready to defend Clark.

And, should Iowa get past UConn, it’s likely the Hawkeyes would face a rematch against another South Carolina team in the final. That Gamecocks squad is still the favorite to hoist the national championship, and they would be 37-0 and on the cusp of history should they face Iowa in the final.

If Clark can survive that gauntlet and lead Iowa to the title, she will have a solid claim in the GOAT discussion as a revolutionary player in college basketball.