“With the fifth pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, the Dallas Wings select Bella Alarie from Princeton University.”
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced Alarie’s selection via teleconference April 17, making her the first Ivy League first round WNBA pick in the past 22 years.
“My heart was pounding all day,” said Alarie in the press conference following her selection. “I didn’t think I’d be so nervous leading up to it. I was just waiting to hear my name, and when it came, it was the most exciting moment. It’s the culmination of all my hard work over my life as a basketball player.”
At Princeton, Alarie earned three Ivy League Player of the Year awards. She will graduate with program records in points, blocks, and double-doubles.
“I think she got drafted exactly where she should have,” said Courtney Banghart, the Princeton head coach who recruited Alarie, and now coaches at North Carolina. “She’s that good.”
Alarie and her coaches pointed to her versatility as her greatest strength, but also emphasized her deep understanding of the game.
“I have great versatility as a player,” said Alarie. “I’m 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, but I can step out and shoot. I have a high basketball IQ; I like to find my teammates for open shot. I just play really hard, and I love the defensive end.”
Current Princeton head coach Carla Berube called Alarie one of the best leaders she’s ever seen.
“She’s really coachable,” Berube said. “She wants to play any role to help out the team. She’s fun to be around. Her work ethic inspires others to play at another level.”
Princeton is not known as a basketball powerhouse, but in recent years the team has steadily improved and finished the season ranked No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 22 in the Associate Press rankings.
“In the few years before I got to Princeton and during my time there, we started putting Princeton’s name on the map,” said Alarie. “It’s a huge honor for me to represent my program tonight.”
Blake Dietrick ’15, a guard playing for the Atlanta Dream, said seeing Alarie drafted so high makes her proud to see the Princeton women’s basketball program continue improving.
“I really hope when we play Dallas, I’ll be able to give her a really big hug and chat for a little bit and have that experience [of catching up] other players in the league have almost every game,” said Dietrick.