Bella Alarie is on the cusp of Princeton, WNBA history

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 11: Jackie Reyneke #44 (L) and Bella Alarie #31 of the Princeton Tigers celebrate their win over the Harvard Crimson during an Ivy League semifinal matchup at The Palestra on March 11, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Princeton won 68-47. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 11: Jackie Reyneke #44 (L) and Bella Alarie #31 of the Princeton Tigers celebrate their win over the Harvard Crimson during an Ivy League semifinal matchup at The Palestra on March 11, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Princeton won 68-47. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

Why Bella Alarie should be on your radar

On November 5, Bella Alarie will have her first chance to tie the Princeton women’s basketball all-time record for career double-doubles. Alarie has 34 double-doubles entering her senior season, and coming off a junior campaign in which she averaged nearly 23 points and 11 rebounds per game, it’s a safe bet that she’ll have that record to herself soon enough.

More from History

The two-time Ivy League Player of the Year and 2018-19 Honorable Mention All-America has set several other records in Princeton orange. Last season, Alarie’s scoring average was the highest in team history, and she owns Princeton’s top three single-game scoring performances after registering 45, 41, and 38 points in three different games last February. She is the program leader in career blocks (195) by a healthy margin; only seven other Tigers have even reached 100 in their careers. And with a full season to go, Alarie ranks tenth in career points and fifth in career rebounds and has been named Ivy League Player of the Week a program-record 17 times.

However, once Alarie wraps up her Princeton career, she will still have a chance to make Ivy League history. High Post Hoops’ Howard Megdal currently projects that Alarie will be the sixth pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, which would put her in rare company. Only three Ivy League players have ever been drafted into the WNBA: Harvard’s Allison Feaster (1998), Harvard’s Temi Fagbenle (2016, after playing one season as a graduate student at USC), and Princeton’s Leslie Robinson (2016). Feaster was the only first-round pick, going fifth to Los Angeles, meaning that Alarie has a chance to be the highest pick in Ivy League history and perhaps the first-ever lottery (top-four) pick.

Assuming that Alarie makes a WNBA roster after the draft, she will also become just the fourth Ivy League player to appear in a WNBA game, joining Feaster, Fagbenle, and Princeton’s Blake Dietrick, who went undrafted in 2015 but has played 46 games for three different teams. (Robinson has participated in WNBA training camps but has never made a WNBA roster.) Of that trio, Feaster had the most successful career, starting 156 of 284 games in 10 seasons and averaging 8.0 points per game. She ranks 25th in WNBA history in made 3-pointers (372) and helped the 2001 Charlotte Sting advance to the WNBA Finals. Feaster also amassed 18.2 win shares, which is an estimate of the number of wins an individual player is responsible for, in her career and had an above-average player efficiency rating in six of her 10 seasons.

Fagbenle and Dietrick have each played three WNBA seasons, averaging 3.1 points and 1.0 points per game, respectively, off the bench. Fagbenle won a WNBA title in her rookie season with Minnesota in 2017, making her the only Ivy League alum to win a WNBA championship. However, she has yet to show the star potential in the WNBA that she displayed in the 2019 Eurobasket tournament, when she averaged 20.9 points per game for Great Britain and made the all-tournament team. Meanwhile, Dietrick played in three playoff games in 2018 with Atlanta and got her first career start in 2019 with Seattle, but she is still looking to establish herself with a single team.

This brings us back to Alarie, who could be considered the Ivy League’s second-most accomplished WNBA player as soon as next fall if she has an impactful rookie season. Dietrick has worked out with Alarie and clearly believes in her potential, even comparing her to a WNBA MVP. “She reminds me of [Elena] Delle Donne, quite frankly,” Dietrick told High Post Hoops. “She’s a six-four body with some guard skills and guard range. … Having that length and size in the pros with a guard skill set is really, really valuable.”

Dietrick and Fagbenle both pointed to Alarie’s arrival in the WNBA as a potential milestone for the Ivy League. Dietrick called it “huge” and added, “The more [the Ivy League] can prove that we’re just as competitive as the other mid-majors and the top leagues … as well as having academic excellence, I think is a really good example for young girls and just for the world, the athletic world, in general.” Fagbenle echoed those sentiments, saying that having multiple Ivy League alumni in the WNBA “puts Ivy League teams on the map and shows that we can get those high-caliber players as well.” She continued, “I hope that people will see that and know that … you can still be a pretty good player, [even] a big star, at an Ivy League school and make it big and also get a fantastic education, so you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.”

Mark Alarie, Bella’s father and a Duke alum, knows something about getting the best of both worlds—and many of his stats won’t be the best in the family for much longer. While Bella is unlikely to exceed Mark’s 2,136 points as a collegian, she is fewer than 70 rebounds away from his 833 and will soon double him up in blocked shots. She is poised to be drafted higher than Mark, who was picked 18th in 1986. As a pro, Bella could also challenge Mark’s 7.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, 8.4 career win shares, and four playoff games played in five NBA seasons.

Most of all, though, Bella will look to emulate how her father’s college career ended: by making a deep NCAA Tournament run. In 1986, Duke advanced to its first national championship game under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Princeton likely won’t go quite that far this season, but the Tigers have made the NCAA Tournament in eight of the past 10 years, including with Bella on the roster in 2018 and 2019. Their only win came in 2015 as a No. 8 seed, but with Bella rapidly rewriting the record books, that postseason history seems ripe for revision, too.

Watch Bella Alarie play in college while you can, and don’t count out the Ivy League—in March or in the WNBA.

Data on Princeton program records are from Princeton Women’s Basketball Information Central; WNBA, NBA, and Mark Alarie’s Duke statistics are from; and historical WNBA draft data was graciously provided by High Post Hoops’ and Across the Timeline’s Kurtis Zimmerman.