Francesca Belibi became the toast of the girls basketball world when she became the first Colorado girl to dunk in a game last week. Everyone was shocked, not least of all Belibi herself.
That’s because the teen of Cameroonian descent and Belgian upbringing had never successfully dunked in a game or a practice before elevating against Grand Junction and slamming home a bucket created by her own opportunistic steal.
“It was amazing,” Belibi told espnW. “I’ve tried dunking in practice but never in a game. To do it in a game and get it on film to show the world was a great opportunity.”
As noted in the terrific espnW interview linked above, perhaps most astounding is just how new Belibi is to the sport. The 16-year-old had never played basketball before marching into the gym at Regis Jesuit in September of 2015 and announcing she thought she could play basketball. One of the school’s assistant coaches put her through a workout, and when she dunked a volleyball they excitedly called head coach Carl Mattei, who raced 35 minutes from his house to the school to see her workout.
Let’s just say he wasn’t disappointed with what he saw.
“She can palm a men’s basketball, that’s how big her hands are,” Mattei told espnW. “She can take one dribble from the corner 3-point line and dunk. …
“I think that video got 2 million hits. I know I got about 300 phone calls and texts from college coaches. My phone went absolutely crazy.”
Of course, without modern video and the proliferation of highlights on social media and across the internet, Belibi’s dunk might live in the ether alongside Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game and other historical basketball moments now existing mainly as the sepia-tinged memories of just a handful of fans in the stands; in Belibi’s case, there may have been as few as 40 fans.
Obviously, far more than that have now taken in Belibi’s feat of athleticism and sheer hoops instinct. Based on her early returns, and the way she appears to love the game, we should all be looking for Belibi to be dunking at a major college program come fall 2019.