AT six foot five (196 cms), basketballer Alex Bunton is used to being noticed, whether it’s in a crowd or on the court.
“When I first started playing basketball four years ago, I knew I was the tallest on the court, and I thought that meant people would be more likely to notice if I stuffed up,” she says.
But it’s clear Alex was eventually noticed for all the right reasons.
After graduating from the Australian Institute of Sport in January, she was offered a spot by the Canberra Capitals to play in the Women’s National Basketball League.
The 18-year-old will make her debut this month with the seven-time WNBL champions in the 2012/13 season, and will play alongside one of her idols, Lauren Jackson.
“I heard about Lauren when I first started playing basketball and her name was up in the stars, she’s a good idol for me and what she’s done is quite incredible in itself,” she says.
“This team has a lot of history and to be coached by Carrie Graf, who also coaches the Australian team, is a great honour.”
Although she was approached by other teams, Alex says she was keen to stay in Canberra; the city that has been her home for the past six years since moving here with her family.
“In the back of my mind, I knew I really wanted to stay in Canberra, so when I was approached by the Capitals, I couldn’t be happier,” she said.
Since her foray into basketball four years ago, Alex has quickly become hot property on the court, something she puts down to her “quick hands”.
Her career highlights so far include representing the ACT at the Australian under-16 championships and representing Australia at the under-17 World Championships in 2010.
She was offered a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport in 2009.
Alex says one of the best things about basketball is the “atmosphere”.
“The whole team environment gives me a thrill; it’s a game which gives you a special feeling when you start playing,” she says.
Though not a superstitious player, Alex says she’s learnt to “block everything out” when on the court.
“To zone out and just focus on the game can be quite difficult, but it does come with maturity,” she says.
In between her daily training schedule, Alex studies sports coaching and exercise science at the University of Canberra. She graduated from Lake Ginninderra College last year.
“I think it’s important to have education behind you, because basketball doesn’t last forever,” she says.
Her long-term goal is to play for Australia at the next Olympics in Rio.
The Canberra Capitals will host the Bulleen Boomers at the AIS arena on October 20.