Colorado girls basketball alums highlight level of talent in the state

(Ben Parris/Cherry Creek High School)

Colorado high school basketball alums on display in Boulder

It’s not up for debate, the girls basketball scene in Colorado is no joke. Just last year 65 Colorado girls went on to play at the next level, 10 players going Division I.

One conference in particular, the Pac-12, has been drawing recruits from Colorado like no other. Just this week Grandview junior Lauren Betts committed to become the fourth player from Colorado to join the Stanford Cardinal since Ashten Prechtel (Discovery Canyon) and Fran Belibi (Regis Jesuit) started paving the way from the Centennial State to “The Farm” before Jana Van Gytenbeek (Cherry Creek) joined them this season.

Those three are joined in the Pac-12 conference by 3 other Colorado alums in UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere (Grandview) along with Colorado’s Maura Singer (Columbine) and Kylee Blacksten (Air Academy). Just down the line set to join the Conference of Champions in late 2021 is Regis’s Avery Van Sickle who’ll join the Huskies in Washington and Valor Christian’s Kindyll Wetta will head to Boulder. Look ahead to 2022, Grandview’s Lauren Betts will join the Cardinal in Stanford as Valor’s Raegan Beers will play for Oregon State.

Inside the CU Events Center in Boulder on Saturday, it was a homecoming for Prechtel, Belibi, and Van Gytenbeek who have not had a place to call home all season due to COVID-19 protocols in Santa Clara County. The No. 1 team in the nation Stanford Cardinal have had just three home games 12 contests into their 2021 campaign, but only one of those games has actually been played in their home arena at Maples Pavilion, the others taking place in Las Vegas and in Santa Cruz (home of the NBA G-League Warriors).

“They’re not only outstanding players, but outstanding students and people,” said Stanford head coach Tara Vanderveer, who recently became the winningest NCAA coach of all time. She mentioned how the high level of both high school and club basketball within the state make players from Colorado a great fit for Stanford’s program.

The three Coloradoans on Stanford’s roster aren’t just fitting in for the Cardinal, they’re standing out.

Perhaps the biggest standout on the roster, and maybe even in the whole conference is Regis Jesuit grad Fran Belibi. While most here in Colorado learned of Fran Belibi after she became the first girl in the state to dunk during a game 2017 followed by putting down an alley-oop in 2019, she’s taking the entire nation by storm after becoming the eighth woman to dunk in the NCAA, the fifth woman to do it multiple times.

It was not only a homecoming in Boulder for those on Stanford, as the Buffalos made some history in their defeat over the Cardinal. Today’s 77-72 win gave CU their first ever win against a No. 1 ranked team, and it was the first time CU beat Stanford since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 in 2011. The Buffs moved to 6-6 overall (4-5 in the Pac-12) as the Cardinal dropped to 11-1 (8-1).

Seeing Colorado talent compete at the next level is always a thrill, and it sure builds anticipation for competition to begin all around Colorado on Jan. 25.