Internet sensation Francesca Belibi wanted to dunk on a fast break during the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
Future teammate Haley Jones had other ideas.
“Haley stood there (in the way) and decided it wasn’t going to happen,” said Belibi, who threw down some dunks this season at Regis Jesuit High in Aurora, Colorado, that went viral on the internet. “I was trying, but it’s OK. We’re all here having fun.”
Jones, Belibi and Asheten Prechtel, who will become teammates at Stanford this year, flashed their camaraderie on and off the court in the final game of their high school careers. Jones, the nation’s top recruit, scored a game-high 17 points to claim MVP honors and lead the Away Team to an 87-82 win over Belibi, Prechtel and the Home Team.
Belibi, who won the dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-American game, finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Prechtel, who played at Discovery Canyon High in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had five points and five rebounds.
“It’s just an honor to be here,” said Jones, who attended Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, California. “Getting to know them, getting to compete against them in practice and in the game is just amazing.”
The three, along with a fourth recruit, Hannah Jump, comprise ESPN’s No. 2 recruiting class in the country and are eager to get to Stanford this summer. The Cardinal won the Pac-12 Tournament championship in Las Vegas last month, perennially contend for Final Fours and national championships and return a talented nucleus to complement their new recruits.
Jump, a star at Pinewood High in Los Altos Hills, California, who didn’t play in Saturday’s game, was the first to commit to Stanford, followed by Belibi, Prechtel and Jones.
“We have a group text. We’re always talking,” Jones said. “The chemistry, it always starts with communication. We just try to talk as much as possible … We’re trying to get together.”
Belibi and Prechtel shared a hotel room during the weekend, and Jones stayed next door. Belibi said they’ve spent time together away from the court throughout the trip to develop relationships and build chemistry.
“I think that’s most important when you get on the court,” Belibi said.
Jones, a 6-foot-2-inch wing, is a dynamic three-level scorer who can shoot, post smaller defenders and attack the basket. Prechtel is a 6-5 big who can post or face the basket and anchor a defense. Belibi is a 6-1 wing who slashes, attacks the rim and dunks with ease in transition.
Except when Jones is in the way.
“I told her (before), I said, ‘If you’re going up, I’m going to be there,’” Jones said jokingly. “I don’t care if it’s on a highlight reel, I was going to turn around and hug her and stop her from even going up.”