05/03/2024

Alice Dart will be taking to the court for Queensland (Image: Taylor Earnshaw/@taylorearnshaw.photog)

Time is rapidly approaching for the 2024 Under 20 and Ivor Burge National Championships, which is set to get underway on January 30.

The six-day event, which runs until February 4 will see 28 teams from over Australia venture to Ballarat. It is expected to be the best tournament yet, as some of the country’s top rising players will be showcasing their talents.

Ahead of the upcoming national championships, The Inner Sanctum will take a look at the ones to watch during the event.

Opal Bird

Starting off the list is young forward, Opal Bird.

The 17-year-old’s versatile playing style, seen during her time as a junior with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, has excited many within basketball circles. That versatility is expected to be seen once more, as she takes to the court for NSW.

The Centre of Excellence talent is no stranger to high intensity competitions, having represented Australia at the FIBA U17 Women’s Oceania Championship last year.

Lavinia Cox 

Lavinia Cox capped off a strong season in the Big V, receiving the Youth League MVP following her dominance in last year’s grand final against Keilor (30 points, three rebounds, four assists). Now, the Bendigo local will be looking to continue her strong form following her selection to the Victorian team.

The rising talent has been making a name for herself over the past few years since making her NBL1 debut with the Bendigo Braves at just 15 years of age. She has also been previously training alongside the Bendigo Spirit as a development player.

A strong campaign during last year’s Basketball Australia’s under-18 championships with Victoria Country (12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists) saw Cox receive recognition at the recent Bendigo’s Sports Star of the Year awards.

Isla Juffermans 

Isla Juffermans is a name that Sydney Flames and WNBL fans may be familiar with.

Already having an impressive list of achievements in her career so far, including her debut with the Opals, the 18-year-old is touted as a future star of the sport.

Juffermans has previously shown her ability to greatly impact the scoreboard on various occasions. Her performance at the U16 Women’s Asian Championship last year saw her make the all-time single-game scoring record with 37 points and 15 rebounds, leading the Sapphires to defeat Korea in the semi-finals.

With the former Coffs Harbour Suns junior heading to Louisville after the WNBL season concludes, she’ll be hoping to help NSW claim victory before jetting over to the States to start her college career.

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Alice Dart 

One part of team Queensland’s stacked roster, the 5’10 guard could be set for a big U20 campaign in 2024.

Dart has just come off the back of a recent NBL1 stint with the Southern District Spartans, averaging ten points across 16 games. During this time, the rising star played nine games as a starter and scored in double figures eight times, eventually leading her to sign on with Washington State University.

Queensland will be in good hands having Dart on their roster, as she is a versatile player known for basketball IQ, physicality and decision-making on the court.

Mailey Cunningham

After finishing #1 in the nation for threes made in last year’s event, the 18-year-old forward/wing will be looking to make her mark once again this year.

The versatile and athletic talent will be representing the Territory team, awarded the Player’s Player award whilst with the Canberra National Academy last year.

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