AURORA — Regis Jesuit junior Fran Belibi, one of the top high school girls basketball prospects in the nation, committed to Stanford on Monday afternoon.
Belibi, a two-time All-Colorado selection who initially made national headlines by becoming the first girl to dunk in a Colorado high school basketball game at the start of the 2017 season, had hundreds of Division I offers. The versatile 6-foot-1 guard/forward chose the Cardinal over three other finalists — Notre Dame, Harvard and Princeton — and an array of other top-tier collegiate programs such as Duke, South Carolina and Tennessee. Belibi is the second local this year to pledge to Palo Alto, joining Cherry Creek sophomore point guard Jana Van Gytenbeek.
The daughter of two doctors, and with aspirations to become one herself, Belibi sat down with her family and made a comprehensive 35-point check list for her four final choices.
“Once we got through it, and once I finished all my official visits, Stanford was just the clear choice for me in terms of basketball, faith and the fact that it had a medical school on campus,” Belibi said.
This past winter, as a junior Belibi led the Raiders to the Continental League championship and a state runner-up finish, as Regis Jesuit fell 67-61 to Grandview in the Class 5A championship game. She averaged 13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.6 blocks, enabling the Raiders to go undefeated in the state of Colorado during the regular season.
But Regis Jesuit coach Carl Mattei, whose program has now produced 36 Division I players in 15 seasons, believes the state’s only seen “about 40 percent” of what Belibi can do considering she just started playing basketball her freshman year.
“When she gets on the court, she has that inner competitive spirit that you can’t teach — she attacks well, she’s aggressive,” Mattei said. “Some people have that intensity, some people don’t, and I think that fire inside will carry her far during senior year and at the college level even as she’s facing girls who are equally as athletic and way more experienced.”
Up next for the state’s biggest girls star is a trip to Colorado Springs at the end of the week for tryouts with the under-17 USA Basketball national team. Last summer, as part of the under-16 team, Belibi averaged 4.8 points and 5.8 rebounds while helping the U.S. win the FIBA Women’s Americas Championship in Argentina.
She’s a virtual lock to make the team, and it will be the latest accomplishment for the humble star who admits her dunking fame — and the status as a local ambassador for the girls game that came with it — is still sinking in.
“Sometimes it hits me, because I’ll be walking around somewhere and someone I’ve never met starts talking to me about basketball,” Belibi said. “But it’s a good platform to have because it helps empower kids to play. Hopefully, when you see someone dunk, you go out and try it too so we can get some more girls dunking in our sport.”
While Mattei continues to hail Belibi as a “female Kobe” and the “future No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft”, the iron is that Belibi’s commitment to the Cardinal likely spells the beginning of the end of her basketball career. The junior remained steadfast in her position that she doesn’t see herself playing professionally or internationally in any capacity.
“I want to be a doctor — I’ve seen how that can impact people’s lives,” Belibi said. “I feel like I have more of a calling towards that, as compared to playing basketball for a long time.”