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April 17, 2020

Bella Alarie

New York, New York

Q. What do you think you bring to the WNBA and the team that you were drafted to?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I think I bring a lot of versatility. I'm 6-4, but I can stretch the floor, and I have good footwork, so I can play inside or outside, and I can play around this young exciting team that plays basketball at a really fast pace, and I'm excited to defend, to play great team basketball, and yeah, just be whatever help I can be on the court.

Q. To be on a team with Satou [Sabally], you guys have a lot of the skills required for where the league is going. I'm wondering what those conversations with Dallas were like and the way in which you envision that combination being most effective at the WNBA level.
BELLA ALARIE: Definitely, yeah. Satou is a super versatile player, really fun to watch, kind of does everything on the floor exceptionally well, and so I'm really excited to play with her and also with Ty Harris. I think this is a team, they want young players who are skilled, versatile. We're going to play fast basketball. It's an exciting team. I'm really excited to play alongside some really amazing professional women's basketball players, so it's a huge opportunity, and I'm just really excited and looking forward to it.

Q. Did your dad [former NBA player Mark Alarie] help you at all in terms of going through the draft process and what it's like to be waiting to hear your name called?
BELLA ALARIE: You know, not really. He didn't really talk too much about the draft because I feel like this is such a historic draft. Nothing has really been like this before, but he could tell I was nervous and definitely had good advice for me to calm my nerves. There's always a plan, you know, everything happens for a reason, and so it was nice to just have his support. But this is definitely a different night than you'd expect for a draft, but I think it went really well, and to have him with me and my family really did calm my nerves, and it was nice to have them around.

Q. Talk about your emotions once you heard your name called.
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I mean, my heart was pounding all day. I didn't think I'd be so nervous leading up to it. Yeah, I mean, I was just waiting to hear my name, and when it came, it was the most exciting moment. A lot of love in the room with my family, but it's kind of the culmination of all my hard work over my life as a basketball player, and yeah, it's just a really, really special moment. Just really excited, also relieved to hear my name. I love Dallas. Having conversations with the coaches and the GM, I'm really excited about the future, my future in Dallas and our future as a team.

Q. Coming from a smaller school like Princeton as opposed to these other Power Five programs, what's it been like to put Princeton basketball on the map with your journey the last few years?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, it's been really special. Yeah, you're right, Princeton is not really known as a basketball school, it's not a Power Five conference. But in the few years before I got to Princeton and in my time there we definitely started putting Princeton's name on the map as one of the great basketball schools, and it's a huge honor for me to represent my program tonight, to be selected No. 5 in the WNBA Draft. There's a lot of great Ivy League players that came before me and were picked in the WNBA Draft, and I'm really just proud to be the next one, and I hope I rep them well.

Q. Can you expound a little bit on what you said about the Ivy League? You're the second player ever to be drafted in the first round with Allison Feaster being the other one. Just what it means for the league that you can get a really good education and be a great basketball player. And do you have bragging rights since your dad was drafted much later in the first round [of the NBA Draft] and Jay Bilas was drafted much, much later?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, so to answer the first question, yeah, you can get the best education in the world with the Ivy League. I think that's what it shows is you can get an Ivy League degree, a Princeton degree, and I get to play at the highest level in the WNBA, and I'm just so proud. I think it shows the future trend of basketball, definitely more respected mid-major players possibly, but I'm really glad to be the face of that this year.

And then yeah, family bragging rights, I'm the highest pick out of my dad and my Uncle Jay, so I'll definitely be using that to my advantage.

Q. A couple people beat me to the punch on talking about the Ivy's, but can you talk about being a part of a program that has really just won and won and won throughout your college career but didn't necessarily get the national spotlight? And for you to now be a top-5 pick, what do you hope that means for the program?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I mean, at my time at Princeton -- well, when I was getting recruited I saw (indiscernible) was getting the first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament from an Ivy League team, so they were on the rise. There was a lot of success. And then my freshman year we didn't make the NCAA Tournament, but we weren't satisfied with that and we kept working, and my senior year we make it to the top 25 polls. I think we were going to play our best basketball in the NCAA Tournament, go on a run, and we were really putting Princeton on the map. We had the No. 1 defense in the country, so just really proud to be a part of that. And then tonight just to be representing my team and my league, the Ivy League, is a huge honor, and I hope it's a good example for the future. There's a lot of ballers in the Ivy League, and I can see them following in my footsteps in the future. I'm just really excited about that.

Q. In fact, you're not the first Princeton player to make it into the WNBA, but you are the first player in 22 years to be a first-round draft pick from the Ivy's since Allison Feaster. How do you hope maybe this will get more players interested in playing college ball in the Ivy's when they see you can be a standout player as you've been and get recognition in the pros?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I mean, I hope I'm a good example to young basketball players that you should always pursue the best education possible, push yourself in the classroom and on the court, and I get to play in the WNBA at the end of the day. So I'm just really happy about that.

Yeah, Allison Feaster was an amazing player, but it has been a long time since we've had a first round draft pick out of our league, and I have players out of Princeton that I really look up to that are mentors to me, Leslie Robinson who was drafted into the WNBA as well as Blake Dietrick who plays in the WNBA currently, and so to be a part of that group and to keep representing our program has been really special, and I hope that I can be a role model to girls when they're thinking about where they want to go to school and play basketball.

Q. My question is just with this huge influx of young players that Dallas is getting when they have so many first-round draft picks, what's your expectation for next season in the WNBA? Are you kind of expecting a huge run for you guys, or are you going in with the mindset of we're going to compete?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I think a combination. We are going to be a young team, but there's a lot of talent. I think it's going to be an exciting team to watch play, and yeah, we'll just keep building. I know it's a lot of hard workers on this team, and I'm excited to play with all the new rookies and the current players. But what I know is I like to compete. I always play to win, and I know my teammates will feel the same way, so we'll be out there playing as hard as we can.

Q. Just curious what part of your game you feel will translate the most to the pros since you've had some international experience and played against some high-level players already. What are you most confident in?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I think I'm confident in just my versatility as a player, being comfortable. I've played for two college coaches now and Team USA teams under different head coaches, so I'm coachable as a player and I can fit into different systems, and whatever is asked of me I can do, so I think that will translate especially to the WNBA where we see players that are extremely versatile that are super successful in the league, and I think that will translate for me, just being able to be in different situations and contribute in whatever ways I can.

Q. Kind of following up on the last question, you mentioned a lot of your strengths, your versatility, your coachability, your IQ, all of which I agree with. Do you have any thoughts about whether you need to add strength at all to be able to match up with some of the fours and the fives in the league or do you think you are physically able to hold your own from day one?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I mean, I definitely think you can always get stronger, and that's something I'm working on, especially in this time off, just getting stronger, getting as big as possible so I can play against these big posts in the league. And I also think my length really comes in handy. I'm able to hold my own. We'll see, but definitely that's something I'm working on. That's something that's going to be important in the future.

Q. Piggy-backing off the Ivy League and Princeton questions, you brought up Blake. We happened to have a watch party going for the first five, six picks. The host was waiting until you got picked and Blake was so anxious at No. 4, but at 5 she screamed, "yay Bella," she was so happy for you. One of the things she said was the transition she felt you would be able to make to the WNBA because you both shared a coach that you both have been coached by at Princeton. What can you say the attributes are that you've learned from Courtney [Banghart] that you'll be able to transition that you'll always take with you through your path through the pro ranks?
BELLA ALARIE: Yeah, I mean, one thing about Coach Banghart, she's a relentless competitor, and that's something I've always admired in her and something that's an intangible quality that you can bring anywhere and that hard work is important to getting better. You can't just show up on game day and be a great player. There's unseen hours and the hard work you've got to put in. And I was lucky to play for her. She instilled a lot of great advice to me, made me a really confident player, trusted me, and yeah, I'm really glad I got to play for her for three years, and I know the lessons I learned, the lessons Blake learned from playing with her definitely will be super important going into the WNBA.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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