August 14, 2020 

Wings duo Bella Alarie, Ty Harris talk life in the WNBA and Under Armour

A plan to do for women's basketball what Steph Curry did for the men's game

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PALMETTO, FL- JULY 31: Bella Alarie #32 of the Dallas Wings shoots the ball against the Indiana Fever on July 31, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Getty Images)

If they died and could come back as any person or thing, Bella Alarie would come back as a bird; Tyasha Harris would come back as Dawn Staley.

You’ll find a little J.Cole and Chance  the Rapper on Bella’s playlist. Ty jams out to any Major Nine or Lil Baby songs.

Both wish they could sing.

The two WNBA rookies, who are making their mark in the League as members of the Dallas Wings, actually have a lot in common.

They were both drafted by the Wings, and last month, both signed multi-year deals with Under Armour. As part of their individual multi-year deals, Alarie and Harris wear the UA HOVR Breakthru, Under Armour’s first basketball performance footwear specifically designed for female athletes, this season.

“UA has not been on the scene really for WNBA and to kind of be like one of the first women to rep and support UA in the WNBA is cool,” Harris said. “We call ourselves the female Steph Currys of the brand.”

Alarie and Harris have known each other since their freshman year in college, playing U19 basketball together, playing in the PanAm games and competing against each other as members of USA Basketball.

“I had no idea we’d both be chosen by Dallas but I’m really glad it worked out like that because she’s an awesome person to play with just in my past experiences with her,” Alarie said. “Very calm and collected player on the court, someone who cares a lot about teamwork.”

Harris called Alarie when she found out during the draft that they had the potential to be on the same team, expressing comfort over a “familiar face” to start her journey with in Dallas.

Alarie was selected fifth overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft, becoming the highest-drafted player from Princeton. The daughter of former NBA player Mark Alarie has recorded the most blocks among rookies playing this season thus earning her the nickname “Bella the Block Queen” among fans.

Harris was drafted seventh overall and hails from the storied women’s program at South Carolina under the legendary Staley. Harris won a national championship her freshman year and has racked up steady minutes and experience as a key member of Dallas’ bench. She is second amongst players drafted in 2020 for assists.

The rookies talked with TheNextHoops about their mindset in the Wubble, how their shoe deals happened, their greatest fear, and more.

Talk about the mindset you’ve had to adapt preparing for playing in the Bubble.

Bella: It’s crazy. You have to just learn to adapt and adjust quickly on the court; just be coachable and open to whatever is thrown at you. This is new for everyone. Biggest thing is to stay really adaptable because things change so quickly. You only have one day between games to learn a new scout and you have to have a short -term memory about the last game you played whether good or bad. You just have to keep pushing through.

Ty: I did workouts with my crew — The Breakfast Club. In the beginning when everything shut down, we wouldn’t use that as an excuse not to get better.  So on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we woke up at 5 a.m. and ran 4-6 miles. (And it was in Indiana and was around 20 degrees or less at the time.) It wasn’t so much for the conditioning but to prepare our minds mentally and get disciplined. Everyone is going through it but it’s all about how you shift your focus and mind mentally. Have to have the mindset to keep pushing and keep persevering.

How did UA come knocking?

Bella: Growing up in Maryland, I’ve grown up around the UA Brand and I’ve seen it grow and evolve and have always loved the brand. I was really excited about their focus on women’s basketball and growing the game, that’s close to my heart. I think increasing gender equality in sports is a really important  cause. The fact that they are really focused on that was a big reason why I was interested in signing with them. They are just like a family brand. They care a lot about us and I was super excited when they said they were signing  TY too.

Ty: For me, I played in them the last four years at South Carolina so it was kind like why not? I like the fact that they are very family oriented and care a lot about their people and they like to tell your story. For me, always flying under the radar, being underrated, going through trials and tribulations, always trying to prove people wrong – they liked that story about me.

Who is your favorite sports hero?

Bella: My dad. The best advice he ever game me is to always remain confident, no matter what.  Always stand tall. Go on the court every day and give 100 percent effort. Always be aggressive out there and walk off the court proud if you gave everything you have.

Ty: Tamika Catchings or Dawn Staley. Tamika I’ve known her for a long time from being in her camps, she played at Indiana and I’m from Indiana so we have a relationship there. Dawn, I didn’t get to see her play but when I learned more about her outside of basketball – she’s so powerful, outspoken, so supportive of everything.

How do your teammates make practice fun?

Bella: We cheer for each other. It’s exciting when we make shots and you can hear people just cheering you on and that’s a big thing having a positive attitude throughout the whole practice.

Ty: We joke a lot. We laugh a lot. Practice can be fun sometimes. When we have time to shoot, we talk about stuff, laugh, joke, dance.

What is your greatest fear?

Bella: For me I fear failure. But it’s also kind of what pushes me. I never want to disappoint my family or people who are watching me or cheering me on. But it’s something that kind of motivates me at the same time.

Ty: It used to be failing but without failing there’s no growth.

Which living person do you most admire?

Bella: My grandma. She is one of the most optimistic people on the planet. Always has a smile on her face and just cares deeply about her family and making the world better by always being optimistic.

Ty: My circle that has always been with me: my parents, my sisters, my trainers and my workout friends: The Breakfast Club: Djimon, Derick, Kyle, Katlyn and younger sister Talia

Who do you wish was watching you perform at every game or match?

Bella: My family. Honestly, they were at all my games in college, even my grandparents would come and I think that always gave me that extra push seeing them physically in the stands. Right now I know they are watching on tv but having them in the stands at games was a really big push for me.

Ty: My parents and my little sisters.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Bella: How hard I am on myself. Sometimes that can limit my potential. I know I can overthink a lot of things and it’s just always tough when you’re an athlete to be so hard on yourself.  In others? I’m a very team-oriented person and when people are selfish, like self-centered, that sometimes bothers me.

Ty: I think being authentic. I feel like there’s a fine line where everybody just has to be authentic — for  me  too. If you’re not being authentic then I’m like already blocking you away. Just be authentic. And it’s the same with me; if you’re being authentic you build trust.

What is on your playlist?

Bella:It depends upon day to day. I like to listen to rap music to get me hype before a game.  I like J. Cole, Chance the Rapper; Spotify recommends playlists so I’ll listen to those. I’m pretty easy with music. Just whatever I’m feeling.

Ty: Any Major Nine songs and Lil Baby.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Bella: I wish I could sing. If I could, I would be really happy. That would be awesome If I could just perform.

Ty: Singing or being able to play the piano. It’s  kind of good  that I  can’t sing though because I’d probably sing everything.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing and you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?

Bella: It would be really cool to come back as some type of bird so I could like fly. That would be really cool. Or a giraffe; that’s like my spirit animal. They’re so majestic. They are tall too, I get told I look like a giraffe sometimes.

Ty: I would have to say Dawn Staley. Now that I’ve been thought it all – just to see how her life is; she’s  done everything I want to do; she has a sneaker collection – I love sneakers – she coaches a prestigious team, she’s famous, she talks about any and everything she wants; I feel like her life is pretty good.

If you could play another sport what would it be?

Bella: I played soccer for most of my life up until high school when I ended up focusing on basketball, but I really like soccer.

Ty: I would run track. And if they had a girl’s football team, I’d definitely be doing football. Something about a QB or a running back or wide receiver would be fun. I don’t know.

What one word describes you?

Bella: My friends would be like: ‘tall.’ I think loyal would be a good word to describe me. I’m like really loyal to the people I love, my teams I am on, my circle like family and friends.

Ty: Chill. Because I’m very relaxed, I can of just fit in with any personality, any group really and like I don’t get too high with the highs or too low with the lows.

What mental tool do you use under pressure?

Bella: Just breathing and thinking of the next play. On the court having a short term memory is really important because you’re going to make mistakes. Taking a deep breath and moving forward is best thing I can do on the court. 

Ty: I just remember everything I been through; like the trials and hard times, hard workouts; I revert back to that and see how I handled that and go back and use that as fuel.

Written by Dorothy J. Gentry

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