Bella Alarie doesn’t have an off switch.
On Feb. 1, the then-junior picked up the Ivy League’s game-points record (45), game-field goals record (20), and Princeton’s all-time block record (160). A week later, she scored her 1,000th career point. On March 13, she became an eight-time Ivy Player of the Week and two-time Ivy Player of the Year. The New York Times profiled her on March 16; her 25 points, six rebounds, five blocks, and three assists helped the Tigers earn an Ivy League Title the next day. Six weeks later, USA Basketball invited the newly minted captain Alarie to the national 3x3 championship. Less than a month after that, she competed at team trials for the Pan American games.
Alarie dominated both competitions, earning spots on both the USA’s new national 3x3 women’s team and its national 5x5 women’s team. When she heard her name called for the latter roster, she told Princeton Town Topics, “I was kind of shaking a little bit.”
So began “literally the coolest summer that [she] could ask for” — one that took her at breakneck speed from Princeton to Las Vegas; Yekaterinburg, Russia; Chengdu, China; Turin, Italy; Montreal, Canada; Lima, Peru; and back again.
She didn’t just rack up airline miles; a silver medal at the Pan-American games and two bronze ones from international 3x3 tournaments joined her already sizable trophy collection.
On Princeton’s court, Alarie inevitably finds herself at the center of plays and of attention. Her summer provided her with an entirely new on-court experience.
“Being surrounded by girls who are doing the same things at their programs was crazy,” she said. “We’re all the go-to players on our college teams, and when we’re together we have to learn to play different roles. You’re not getting the ball every play, and that’s different for sure.”
Alarie’s stats reflected her statement; she averaged 22.8 points and 10.6 rebounds a game last season, and only 6.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in the Pan American tournament. But those numbers didn’t disappoint her. If anything, to her they represented her personal growth.
“It was a really humbling experience to be able to play against the best teams in the world. I was guarding girls who were, like, 30 years old. It made me realize there’s a lot of growth to be made personally. Playing against people who are better than you is the only way to get better.”
After her summer of international trophy-hunting and hard-earned improvement, Alarie is ready to return to more familiar courts.
“I hopped off the plane from Canada, packed my car up and drove here. It was a hectic way to end summer, but a great way to cap off my summer with USA basketball, get to school. It was great to see all my teammates that I’ve missed for the past few months,” she said.
And though the senior captain is back on her home turf and in front of her home crowd, she won’t get complacent anytime soon.
“The summer’s given me a lot more experience and I’m excited to use it. I’m hungry to win our third Ivy title. It’s my senior year, and my co-captain Taylor and I have talked a lot about how we want to leave Princeton with a legacy and make history for the team.”