Rising Australian basketball star Ezi Magbegor is facing a new challenge and it’s one she’s taking with both hands.
Having dominated at junior level, including playing for Australia at three junior world championships, the 18-year-old is now taking on the best players in the country in the Women’s National Basketball League.
Despite being one of the youngest players in the competition, Magbegor, who grew up in Craigieburn, is loving the challenge playing with the Canberra Capitals.
“It’s been really good so far,” she said.
“We’ve got a real mix between veterans and young players.
“Being able to play against Mistie Bass and Jordan Hooper [WNBA players] at training has been really good.
“I’ve played in SEABL, but the WNBL is another level with the bigger bodies and more experienced players.”
Magbegor said it was an easy choice to join the Capitals this season, saying she’s lucky to have such an opportunity. She was already living in Canberra at the Centre of Excellence, so living away from home wasn’t an issue.
“There was the opportunity to play with Paul Goriss – I didn’t think twice about it,” she said.
“He coached me in my first year at the centre and to be able to be coached by him again is good.
“We have a good relationship on and off the court. He knows the individual players and works on your strengths and weaknesses.
“I’m finishing year 12 as well. School is a five minute walk to the stadium.”
Magbegor made her debut in the Capitals season opener, scoring 12 points and pulling down eight rebounds against a Bendigo Spirit side which included Women’s National Basketball Association player Kesley Griffin.
Magbegor, 193cm tall, is used to overshadowing her opponents at junior level, so no longer being the biggest player is one of the main learning curves for her this season.
Week-in, week-out, she will face some of the best talls in the world.
She only started taking basketball seriously a couple of years ago, and knows she still has a long way to go.
“It’s been a great experience [playing with the Capitals] and I’m already learning so much,” she said.
“I’m being exposed to them physically and they’re obviously a lot stronger.
“I have to use my other skills and strengths. Hopefully I’m faster than them and I can get the ball that way.”
Magbegor plans to continue studying after she finishes year 12, but is still undecided whether she’ll take the American College route.
Her brother Ovie Magbegor, who has represented Victoria, is currently at college in America. Her sister and other brother are also talented basketballers.
Magbegor does know that no matter where she studies, basketball will play a big part and she wants to continue making her way through the Australian ranks.
“I didn’t think I would ever be a chance to represent Australia,” she said.“Hopefully I can play for the emerging Opals and hopefully [get to] the Olympics.”