They started off as the best of friends who played their college basketball together at Iowa. Now, they will be opponents in Sin City in the WNBA. That's the storyline surrounding rookies Kate Martin and Caitlin Clark as they prepare to go head-to-head in a long-awaited match up between the Las Vegas Aces and the Indiana Fever. And as Martin recently noted, there's more to this meeting than just the game itself.

“A month is the longest we’ve been apart in four years,” said Martin during a post-practice interview on Friday.

The two former Iowa Hawkeyes were both selected in the 2024 WNBA Draft back in April. Clark was selected with the first overall pick by the Fever, while Martin was selected 18th overall by two-time defending champion Aces.

As you can imagine, both of them have been quite busy since fulfilling their WNBA dreams.

All eyes have been on Clark after her dominant collegiate career with the Hawkeyes. The star rookie and the Fever have endured some growing pains to start, but they managed to finally earn their first victory of the season on Friday night against the Los Angeles Sparks. Even with these collective struggles, Clark is spending an average of 32.3 minutes on the floor, while putting up some strong overall numbers in the process (16.7 PPG, 6.2 APG, 5.5 RPG, 38.3 FG%).

Known as “The Glue” in Iowa, Vegas’ “Money Martin” made her first career three-pointer when the Aces took on the Sparks last Saturday. Martin also had five rebounds, three assists, and one memorable block in 26 minutes of action. The rejection was on a shot from Sparks 6-foot-7 center Li Yueru, drawing an iconic reaction from teammate Kelsey Plum.

That stellar performance was followed by the Aces’ loss to Phoenix Mercury, the team’s first defeat of this season. As always in Vegas, all Aces are in! Martin and the rest of her teammates are looking to bounce back after a tough loss, and they will be going up against the Fever as they look to do so.

Kate Martin and Caitlin Clark go way back

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) and Iowa Hawkeyes guard Kate Martin (20) take questions at Rocket Mortgage Arena
Mandatory Credit: Zach Boyden-Holmes-USA TODAY NETWORK

Even with their busy new lives, Clark and Martin say they keep in touch, but have not seen each other since they turned pro. That will change on Saturday when the Aces take on the Fever in Las Vegas.

In a pregame interview, Martin revealed a personal challenge Clark gave her.

“We've kind of joked with each other back and forth. There's been a lot of banter. She was like… she wants to guard each other,” the Aces’ guard said.

While it’s too soon to tell if the two will actually get to guard each other, you can be sure to see more heartfelt moments between the two Iowa alumni.

Martin and Clark devoted their entire college careers to playing for the Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball team. They arrived at Iowa as part of the same recruiting class and instantly became best buds, bonding over similarities and their love of basketball.

The two then went on to an iconic four-year run at Iowa, which landed them in the NCAA National Championship game twice. Unfortunately, they fell short of taking the title home on both occasions.

When it came to the biggest night in both of their professional lives at the 2024 draft, Martin and Clark stood by one another.

Now on opposite sides of the court, Martin says she’s looking forward to seeing her friend more than she is to competing.

“I’m just excited to see her. She’s my best friend more than us being basketball players,” Martin said.

Excitement for Aces vs. Fever reaches new heights

The highly anticipated contest between Las Vegas and Indiana is sure to display the best of women’s basketball. Joining her fellow former Hawkeyes on the court on Saturday is Aces center, Megan Gustafson. During a pre-game interview, Gustafson said this would also be her first time playing against Clark.

“Obviously she’s a great player. I’m really excited to be able to meet officially against each other, it’s just how it is,” Gustafson said. “Just to be on the same court with two other Hawkeyes is pretty special. It’s the WNBA, it’s the best of the best.”

The Aces star studded roster has helped them seal the deal for back-to-back championships. But on Saturday, the team fell short in a rematch against Mercury.

“It’s been tough having Chelsea Gray out,” Gustafson said,” “She’s one of the best point guards in the world. So, obviously when that’s taken out. We have great people who have stepped up in place of that, sharing point guard duties to fill that role. But, it’s hard.”

Expect a range of emotions to take center stage of this one. The Aces take on the Fever on Saturday, May 25th, at 9 PM EST.