Beyond comparison: UCLA women’s basketball commit Sienna Betts is paving her own path

Photo courtesy of Sienna Betts.

By Gabby Alfveby

Future UCLA Bruins women’s basketball player Sienna Betts’ dream became a nightmare when her sister, Division I women’s basketball star Lauren Betts, announced that she was transferring from Stanford University.

Sienna Betts has always dreamed of attending UCLA and playing basketball there, so when she made the decision to verbally commit last fall on November 13, 2023, she had to swallow that her sister would also be attending to play there and she would be compared once again.

After her freshman season at Stanford, Sienna’s sister, Lauren, entered the transfer portal in early April 2023. Immediately, Sienna knew in her heart which school her sister would pick: UCLA.

The star sisters will play one season together at UCLA during Sienna’s debut and her sister’s final season.

Sienna Betts is a junior five-star commit and the No. 3 overall recruit in the 2025 class. 

Sienna Betts and her sister grew up not always getting along. In fact, one reason she wanted to attend UCLA was that she knew she wanted to play on the West Coast but not at the same school as her sister.

“We do [get along] now, but when we were younger, we used to fight a lot, and that was one of the main reasons I wasn’t going to go to Stanford when she was there,” Sienna said. “Because I just wanted to go my own separate way and do my own thing, and so that’s why it hurts when people are saying I’m following her because it’s really not about her at all, the fact that I’m going there. But we are much closer now. We’re really close now, which I like, obviously.”

Sienna Betts has been compared to her older sister ever since she could remember, but her competitive attitude has always motivated her to want to be better than her. The sisters get along now and have formed a closer bond, but that wasn’t until recently.

Sienna has put work in at the gym, where she has had a personal trainer for some time now. She became serious about the sport in eighth grade and knew she wanted to be a great player.

“For me, it was growing up as the younger sister, and everyone always comparing us,” Sienna said. “I was just really competitive my whole life, and I always just wanted to be better than Lauren. I had a trainer, and I would train with him every day and we just got in the gym a lot. He really helped me not just on the basketball side but on the mental side, bringing up my confidence and making me believe it’s really possible to reach the level that I wanted to. In eighth grade, I trained a couple hours every single day, and then eventually, the work started really showing.”

Sienna Betts didn’t choose UCLA because of her sister, so when her sister announced where she would be transferring, it put a pit in her stomach.

She was afraid of the headlines and what she thought of as “insults” and “backlash” from fans flooding her social media. She was afraid of the “Sienna Betts follows in her sister’s footsteps” headlines.

“I knew once she entered the transfer portal, she was gonna go there,” Sienna said. “I just knew in my heart. So it was really hard just getting out my head that I might have to play with her again and everyone on Twitter was gonna be attacking me.”

Photo courtesy of Sienna Betts.

Sienna emphasized that she doesn’t want to be compared to her sister. She is her own player and has gotten to where she is solely due to her hard work. She also says that it is only a coincidence that her sister decided to transfer to the school of Sienna’s dreams.

“I wouldn’t say I’m following in her footsteps,” Sienna said. “I liked UCLA; they were my dream school way before she went there, and it’s just a coincidence that we like the same school. We have the same taste in people.”

Sienna’s family has made a huge impact on her as a player and her passion for basketball. She has carried and continues to carry these qualities with her during her basketball career.

The rivalry between the two sisters began during their childhood in their house driveway.

“We trained together when we were younger, and we played a lot outside,” Sienna said. “It’s just a really competitive game to me, her, my younger brother, and my dad; that was my whole childhood. That played a big role in how competitive we were as people and players.”

She is a true competitor, and her deep love for the game of basketball shines on the court.

For Sienna being in the gym brings her so much enjoyment and happiness whether she’s playing a game or working with her trainer.

“For me, I love competing, and I love being out there, and I love the atmosphere in a gym,” Sienna said. “I just feel so happy.”

UCLA was the perfect fit for her, and she is excited to be a part of the team. She wanted to attend a school and play for a program that cares about the overall well-being of its student athletes.

The family atmosphere and great communication are also qualities that Sienna looked for in a program. On her official visits to UCLA the coaching staff proved to her that she would find these qualities there.

“For me, it [committing to UCLA] was a lot about how the coaches care about you off the court, and the coaches at UCLA, they really care about your mental health,” Sienna said. “Every team that I’ve ever been on, we’ve been a family… So, they really cared about that part of basketball for me, and they showed me that on my visits and when I called to talk to them.”

Photo courtesy of Sienna Betts.

Being away from home and learning how to compete at the next level are some aspects that student-athletes struggle with when continuing their careers.

Despite the tension the sisters once shared, Sienna is glad she will have her sister on the court with her during the transition from high school to college.

“I’m really grateful that we get to cross paths again in our career and play together,” Sienna said. “And it’s going to be nice for my freshman year to also have someone there because freshmen year is always the hardest. We have good chemistry, and it’s always good to have someone on the court that you know. It’s gonna be nice.”

Sienna is excited to attend school on the West Coast where she will have beach access but her focus is on having a successful career at UCLA.

Sienna has big goals to fulfill while at UCLA, where she hopes to win the program its first national championship.

“I’m most excited to improve as a player, and grow as a person, and balancing my life outside of sports,” Sienna said. “Obviously, like everyone else, I want to win a National Championship. So that would be really nice if I was able to do that there and be their first. I also love California. I’m just a really big beach person in general. That was another big thing about UCLA. I loved the weather and the place, I just love LA.”

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