By Tom Robinson, NEPA Elite News
Maria Belardi became the latest NEPA Elite Clark 17U player to make a college decision Sunday morning when the Scranton Prep senior committed to continue her academic and athletic careers with National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III power Bowdoin College.
“I always wanted a school with high academics and a competitive basketball program,” Belardi said. “Bowdoin had the best programs of both and I really loved the campus. I loved the coach and the team, when I was visiting, they were all so welcoming.”
Belardi was pleased to have the decision made before getting to the middle of the high school season, which moves into league play in the week ahead.
“I could just see myself there and I was really happy to finally make that decision,” she said.
A strong defender on the wing who is an offensive threat as a 3-point shooter, Belardi is a two-time, second-team Lackawanna League Division 1 all-star choice by NEPABasketball.com. She has helped Scranton Prep to Division 1 and District 2 Class 4A titles in each of her three high school seasons.
Belardi also visited NCAA Division II schools Bentley, in Massachusetts, and Chestnut Hill, as well as Division III schools Wellesley, in Massachusetts, and Haverford.
Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, Maine, played in the 2018 and 2019 national championship games. The Polar Bears were 27-2 and in the national Sweet 16 when the 2020 tournament was halted because of COVID and the school sat out last season. Bowdoin is 10-2 this season.
Belardi joins Moriah Murray (Dunmore, Drexel), Kylie Lavelle (Riverside, Drexel), Olivia Smelas and Leila Hurley (both Jim Thorpe, Kutztown), Anna Scoblick (Catholic) and Trinity Johnson (Rochester) as college commitments from the 2021 Hoop Group Showcase League champion NEPA Elite Clark team.