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Point Guard: Christian Petracca
Once running the floor for Victoria as a junior, Petracca boasts an eventful basketball career prior to his pathway to the AFL.
At the pinnacle of his junior career, a young Petracca was favoured to take the basketball route for his future career, where he represented the Australian Institute of Sport’s under-18 Australian squad in 2012, alongside Utah Jazz guard and 2014 5th overall pick Dante Exum.
The bullish onballer was soon converted to football having spent time at both Hawthorn’s and Essendon’s training facilities as a youngster, telling his father he had played his last basketball game after enjoying football with TAC side Eastern Ranges.
Petracca’s size would certainly be his major upside against fellow guards, where he has proven to be both a menace inside the paint as a two-way player in his junior career.
Shooting Guard: Hugh Greenwood
The Crows utility ignited his college basketball career as a guard with the University of New Mexico for the 2011-12 season, managing a stat line of 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals in his final year in the system.
In 2015, Greenwood had earned a pre-draft workout invite with the Utah Jazz in May, and by the end of August had left the Perth Wildcats one month into his three-year contract with the NBL outfit. Greenwood soon looked to pursue his career in Aussie Rules, signing a two-year category B rookie contract with the Adelaide Crows the next month.
Greenwood made his debut with the Crows in round nine 2017, kicking three first-half goals along with 15 touches and nine tackles to secure his spot into the clubs best 22 before going on to play in his sides grand final loss to Richmond.
The high-flyer has developed an exciting game for Crows fans, bringing hops and physicality across from his basketball career.
Small Forward: Scott Pendlebury
The first name that comes to mind when the words “basketball background” are mentioned.
Pendlebury represented Australia when he was 16 and was backed to have a potential future in the NBA by Boomers star Patty Mills. Pendlebury was selected ahead of Mills for a junior AIS basketball squad, where he would eventually withdraw from to pursue football, meaning Mills got the call-up in his place.
Pendlebury’s surgical use of the ball and poise are certainly a reflection on his time spent with a Spalding in-hand, transferring his evasiveness within the paint to the contested ball in guts for the black and white.
The Pies skipper can proudly host the label of an “all-around athlete”, with his precision to move the football by either foot whilst boasting a prolific junior career as a long-range specialist.
Power Forward: Marcus Bontempelli
Like Pendlebury, ‘The Bont’ has added a successful string of attributes to his game thanks to a strong junior career in basketball. Bontempelli’s agility and technique as a tall onballer is the edge he has over some of the leagues best as he continues to develop a game style the league hasn’t seen before.
Lateral movement and managing to find space in tough situations are vital in both basketball and Aussie Rules, with Bontempelli admitting there were a number of skills that were transferable between the two sports in an interview in 2017.
“I think the raising of the arms element of my game has come from a basketball background,” Bontempelli said.
“I think another main thing that I’ve learnt from basketball is movement in all directions. Feeling that pressure around you and sensing where that space is.”
So that’s something that’s developed naturally through a couple of different sports, and I’m thankful that it did because it does help around the stoppages and in close.”
Centre: Mason Cox
Standing at 6’11” (211cm) and with a history at Big 12 outfit Oklahoma State University, Cox is an obvious pick for the AFL’s big man spot in the starting five.
Originally a soccer player growing up, Cox turned to basketball at a recreational level because of his towering size, soon attracting interest from Oklahoma State coaches. Cox’s career within the college system is far from stellar, as he spent a majority of his career off the court.
However, Cox’s agility and vertical leap for a man of his size has stunned the AFL as his best showing came late into Collingwoods push for a flag in 2018. While the experiment hasn’t fully paid off for both Cox and Collingwood yet, it’s certainly looking a chance, with Cox even hoping to gain Australian Citizenship in the near future.