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CLEVELAND -- All eyes were on the South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday afternoon as they celebrated their 2024 national championship win over Iowa across a confetti-covered court. However, Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley took a minute of her postgame speech to give a shoutout to Iowa's Caitlin Clark, who has officially ended her historic college basketball career.

"I have to congratulate Iowa on an incredible season. Also, I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport," Staley said. "She carried a heavy load for our sport and it's just not going to stop here on the collegiate tour, but when she is the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft, she's going to lift up that league up as well. 

"Caitlin Clark, if you're out there, you are one of the GOATs of our game and we appreciate you." 

The two-time Naismith Player of the Year has been an incredible shooter whose signature move has become scoring from the logo. Throughout her four years at Iowa, Clark registered 3,951 points to become the Division I college basketball all-time leading scorer. But her offense went beyond scoring, as she led the nation in both points and assists in two consecutive seasons. 

Clark never played for Staley, but hearing the South Carolina coach's message was meaningful to her.

"Any time somebody like Coach Staley is able to recognize you and what you did for the game, it's pretty special," Clark said. "Obviously she is somebody I respect so much. I respect what she has done for South Carolina, I respect what she did as a player for our game. Anytime you can get the praises of her, it's pretty special, so it means a lot."

WNBA legend Sue Bird also had huge praise for Clark and her place within college basketball history. 

As for being the G.O.A.T., Bird believes rings matter in the discussion because legend like Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore all won it all. However, she pointed out that winning a national championship isn't mandatory to be known as one of the game's greats. 

"When you talk about the G.O.A.T., I think you have to have a championship connected to your name, in college," Bird told CBS Sports in Cleveland. " ... But, if Caitlin doesn't win, that doesn't mean she doesn't go down as one of the greatest scorers one of the greatest shooters, right? And yes, she is one of the greatest players."