Ivy Hoops Online caught up with all-time Princeton great and new Dallas Wing Bella Alarie to see how she’s been doing since she became a WNBA draftee last week.
She may be turning pro, but she’s still got her senior thesis to finish.
“I am getting there,” Alarie said. “But I admit the week of the draft was distracting. Now that I have a little breather I can finish it up. It’s due in a few days and I’m going to make it.”
Alarie played primarily in the post as a college player. She sees herself as a stretch four, and the Wings staff agrees.
“I played guard as a teenager and didn’t reach my full height until I got to Princeton,” Alarie said. “I was very comfortable handling the ball and running the floor. The Wings expect me to shoot threes and play at a fast pace. I am really looking forward to the whole thing.”
Alarie began to consider the possibility of reaching the WNBA at the beginning of her sophomore year, when Courtney Banghart was still at the Tigers’ helm.
“Coach Banghart was discussing the setting of goals for the season for the team and for me personally. She told me she was hearing from WNBA personnel people and encouraged me to go for it,” Alarie recalled. “She said that my chances would depend on how hard I was willing to work and that I would need to get stronger, but she believed I could do it.
“Of course those are things coach told every player, but I took it to heart,” Alarie said with a little chuckle.
Alarie’s favorite moment in her career as a Tiger?
“I was fortunate to have a lot of highlights as a Princeton player. We had some great teams, but I think the one that means the most to me is Senior Night this year when we got cut to down the nets,” said the three-time Ivy Player of the Year. “Taylor Baur, our co-captain, is my best friend. The celebration for our last home game was very emotional and something I’ll never forget.”
Alarie knows fellow first-round Wings selection Tyasha Harris from their playing days on some international teams and believes Satou Sabally, the number two overall pick and yet another Wing, would be the first selection in any year without someone named Ionescu in the draft. She shares the confidence of the Wings’ staff that they will be a title contender soon, if not right away.
Alarie has a couple of favorite WNBA players that she looks up to.
“I have admired Elena Delle Donne for many years and have tried to pattern my game after hers. Candace Parker is another awesome player I have loved to watch,” Alarie said.
Carla Berube, Banghart’s successor, oversaw marked improvement on defense f or Princeton in her first season leading the Tigers, who had the number one defense in Division I by a wide margin in 2019-20. That wasn’t a coincidence.
“Coach Berube came in and told us right away that she is a big believer in the role of defense in winning basketball games,” Alarie said. “For me, it was like being a freshman all over again because she gave us a lot to learn. I fell in love with defense for the first time in years and so did the whole team. I know how important defense is in the pros and I think my value as a player is higher after being part of the best defense in the country.”
Greg Bibb, the Wings’ president and CEO, agrees.
Bibb told Ivy Hoops Online that Alarie’s defensive ability and potential for improvement were important factors in his decision to take her with the fifth selection in the first round. He also felt that Alarie not getting the chance to play in the NCAA tournament was a reason why she was still available when the fifth pick was made.
Unfortunately, whether the WNBA will take to the court this year is unknown. In a normal year, the season would kick off in mid-May. This is anything but a normal year.
IHO mentioned to Alarie that former Tiger Devin Cannady tweeted last week that a statue of Alarie would sit comfortably between statues of Bill Bradley and Dick Kazmaier outside Jadwin Gym, provoking a dismissive laugh from her.
But this year marks the 50th anniversary of intercollegiate athletics for women at Princeton. It might be time to honor the greatest female athlete in the school’s history.
IHO and all Ivy League fans wish Bella Alarie the best as she goes to play at the very highest level. Thank you for all you have done.