Viral dunker Fran Belibi looks forward, backward and, of course, up at USA Basketball trials
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Fran Belibi recently crossed a big item off her to-do list. So now is as good a time as any to do some reflection and projection.
Belibi, the No. 33 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2019 class, committed to Stanford last week. This weekend the 6-foot-1 forward at Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colorado) is at the USA Basketball Women's U17 World Cup team trials in Colorado Springs.
Anticipation follows her wherever she goes. Within her home state and beyond. That's part of the deal when videos of your dunks go viral. When Belibi was a sophomore, she became the first girl to dunk in a Colorado high school game on Jan. 6, 2017. She did it again in the playoffs that year.
Let's just say people took notice.
"In Colorado, girls come to the games to watch me dunk," she said. "It's a huge honor for me. Girls need inspiration. They take photos with me and want to meet me. The girls' game has grown so much. With me showing that a girl can dunk in a game and that the game can be played at or over the rim, it can be opportunity for other girls to do it, too. All they have to do is put their mind to it."
Belibi, who won a gold medal with Team USA last summer at the FIBA Americas U16 championships in Argentina, explained her own mindset on how she can tell if the time is right to dunk.
"I try to get my footwork correct. It's usually three dribbles from halfcourt," she said. "Then I have to concentrate on keeping the ball in the hoop so it doesn't pop back off the back iron. The feeling of you being that high off the floor, over 10 feet, it's just an amazing feeling. It hypes you up, hypes your teammates up, hypes the fans up."
And she's not quite satisfied with her repertoire.
"I'm working on different dunks, perhaps a two-handed dunk," she said. "But that is a challenge because you have to get up even higher. You have to really get your legs into it."
As for her college decision, Belibi said she chose Stanford after visiting Notre Dame, Princeton and Harvard. She also had been considering Penn State. She hopes to one day become a pediatrician, like her mom, Suzanne Belibi.
"After sitting down and weighing the pros and cons with my family, it came up Stanford," she said. "The environment there, the school, team, it just made sense.
"I know that I have a lot to learn, and Stanford will help me along the way. Stanford has pedigree as a school and as a team."
But first things first. Belibi, who started playing basketball when she was a high school freshman, still has her senior year at Regis Jesuit, and she wants to win a state title. Regis Jesuit lost in the state championship this past March to Grandview (Aurora). Beyond that, Belibi hopes to be chosen for the McDonald's All American Games and the Jordan Brand Classic.
And as for the dunk contests, Belibi is all in.
"If selected, I want to be in the dunk contest with the boys," she said. "I don't think the girls should have their own dunk contest. I feel that there is more hype by having the boys participate."