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Being Lauren Betts is not for the faint of heart. It’s not just her 6-7 frame, or her glowing confidence—which didn’t come overnight—but because of a basketball résumé that has crowned her as the No. 1 prospect in the graduating class of 2022.
With a top-five college list that included Notre Dame, UConn, South Carolina, Oregon and Stanford, Betts ultimately chose the Cardinal, where she’ll join Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer in the fall.
“I’m honestly most looking forward to being challenged in the classroom and in the gym. I think it’s like the best of both worlds,” Betts says. “It’s going to be tough, but I think it’s going to teach me a lot, to just kind of balance those things, and I think that’s going to give me a lot of opportunities to just learn some life lessons. I think I’m gonna learn a lot from Stanford.
“I don’t want to go to a school where I know I’m going to be, like, the best as soon as I walk in. I want to go to a school where, obviously, my freshman year might not be as amazing as I want [it] to be, but we’ll see what happens. Once I get there, just know that each season is gonna get better and better, and I think that I chose the best school for that.”
The Grandview High (CO) standout’s story begins all the way across the Atlantic Ocean in Spain, when she was introduced to the game at an early age thanks to her dad, Andrew, a former NBA draft pick who spent most of his playing career overseas.
“I think that made me fall in love with the sport,” Betts recalls. “I got to watch my dad, you know, how hard he worked every day, and I got to see him come back and just grind—coming home and having to take a quick nap and then leave again. Just traveling all around the world is something that when I was younger, I obviously wasn’t really excited about because I didn’t get to see him [as often], but as I got older, I thought, honestly, that’s something that I want to do.”
Early on, tuning into her athleticism was tricky as she struggled with adjusting to her lengthy, thin frame. Betts recalls not having much control of her body during her first phase of playing basketball. But with her parents’ athletic genes (her mom was a volleyball standout at Long Beach State), it started to become second nature.
Any worries she had are obviously in the past. She’s gone on to receive back-to-back Gatorade State Player of the Year awards after leading her high school team to a 17-9 record, ultimately winning the Class 5A state title and finishing the season on a 13-game winning streak. In March, she starred in the prestigious McDonald’s All American Game and followed that up at the Jordan Brand Classic in April.
With the move to California looming, she’s focused on enjoying her loved ones before she heads west. But, in the midst of the stardom that comes with being ranked the best in the nation, Betts remains thankful for the moment.
“It’s definitely a dream, and it still hasn’t hit me yet,” she says. “When I started playing basketball, my first goal was just to make varsity, and once I started getting in the gym more and more in training, all these things just kept coming. My family has always taught me to just stay humble and just keep working, so I don’t do that much talking. I kind of just grind, that’s pretty much just what I’ve done. All these things just kept coming, and I just think it’s really cool. Really, I still can’t believe it all.”
Photo credit Oscar Castillo and Getty Images.