This coming season there will be two Australians on the Lobo women’s basketball roster. Ahlise Hurst is the one who is eligible to play in the 2018-19 season as a freshman. She was also the first one to arrive on campus a week ago and I had the opportunity to interview her briefly in the midst of her orientation, physical, and numerous other things a newly enrolled student needs to do. All while still adjusting to the 15-hour time difference between hometown Bendigo and Albuquerque.
Bendigo, with a population of near 100,000 in the metropolitan area, is the fourth largest city in the state of Victoria—approximately the population of Las Cruces. The Greater Bendigo area is a vast 1100+ sq mi and adds only another 10,000 people or so. Victoria is the southeastern part of Australia. Bendigo is also the fourth largest inland city in Australia, located near the center of Victoria, about 90 miles from Melbourne.
Ahlise’s father is ‘Jumpin’ Joe Hurst, who played professionally in the National Basketball League (Australia), winning the NBA’s most valuable player award in 1998. The league includes seven teams in Australia and one in New Zealand. He played on teams in Hobart and Canberra after playing in the US at Northwest Missouri State. He also played overseas in countries including Croatia, Iceland, Indonesia, Portugal, and Sweden,
— Lobo Women's Basketball (@UNMLoboWBB) August 20, 2018
Joe: Welcome. You are from Australia. That’s a big place. Where in Australia are you from?
Ahlise: I’m from Bendigo; it’s a little country town two hours out of Melbourne. I’m a long way from home. [Smiles.]
Joe: What is that part of Australia like?
Ahlise: It’s a bit more of a farmy town–half farm, half city. The half city is just because it’s closer to Melbourne. You know most people in the town, so that’s good.
Joe: What got you interested in playing basketball?
Ahlise: I grew up around it. My Dad played NBL in Australia. I’ve had a basketball in my hand ever since I was a baby. I grew up with it and stuck with it.
Joe: Did you play any other sports?
Ahlise: I played netball. That’s an Australian sport which most Americans would not have heard of. I’d trade basketball for that any day.
Joe: Any siblings?
Ahlise: I have an older brother and an older sister.
Joe: Do they play at all?
Ahlise: My brother plays, but my sister doesn’t.
Joe: When you play against your brother, who wins?
Ahlise: I would say me, but he cheats and he just bullys me up.
Joe: Well that’s cheating. Any decent official would just foul him out. That sounds reasonable to me.
Ahlise: Yeah. [Laughs]
Joe: When I did a little reading on your history and experience, it sounds different. Over here we are used to people playing in high school and in the summers playing on AAU teams. What’s basketball like growing up in Australia?
Ahlise: Basically, you start with your local club teams and you represent your town competing against other towns in your State. That’s basically where I started with basketball. From that, I played for my State. You have to get selected for it and try out. After that it’s basically just State teams–that’s what the highest levels are apart from playing for Australia, obviously.
We have leagues in Victoria. It’s so hard to explain. There’s Big V which has a youth league and a high level adult level basically. There are three levels, and I played in the highest one. That season leads into WNBL season.
[Note: Ahlise not only played but was chosen on the Victoria Country State team in 2014 and 2017]
Joe: You are basically playing all year round.
Joe: What kind of player are you? It’s always questionable what one reads before you get here. I’ve read that you are a point guard. No, you are a shooting guard. One item even said you were a post player.
Ahlise: I would say I’m an all-around guard. If you need me to play point, I’ll play it, but I’m probably more comfortable on the wing. I want to develop that spot in my career. Shooting guard? I can do that.
Joe: What are your strengths, independent of your position?
Ahlise: Shooting the three, attacking it, pull up. Scoring.
Joe: Where do you think you need to improve?
Ahlise: Probably my handles if I want to become a point guard eventually. Still working on my pull-ups and different types of finishing around the rim. Being more of a leader on the court and up-court.
Joe: As you started out saying this is a long way from home. How did you get interested in New Mexico?
Ahlise: When I was thinking about college I was watching the UNM team last season. I thought they looked good even though they didn’t win the NIT. They did a great job in the season. When I came here on my visit, I liked everything. When I walked into the stadium, wow! Meeting the Coaches and everyone was so nice and so encouraging. You just want to be part of a community like that.
Joe: So even before you got here, you saw some of the games online?
Ahlise: Yup…we watched some livestreams.
Joe: You’ve been here five days and you’ve been here once before, how’s the transition going?
Ahlise: Still sleeping a lot. I’m waking up early every morning so far. It’s a good place to be. It won’t take long before I’m adjusted properly–until we start training and I have to adjust to the altitude.
Joe: So what’s the altitude back home?
Joe: Sea level?
Joe: What about the food here? A big difference I assume?
Ahlise: Yeah. That’s a big difference. I remember when I came on my visit, I couldn’t even adjust to the food for the couple of days I was here. It’s been a little bit bad, but I’m getting into it now.
Joe: Have you gotten any recommendations from your fellow Australian on the men’s team?
Ahlise: No, I haven’t actually. It’s a lot different. The food is a lot different.
Joe: It’s a lot different from most places.
What do you see yourself doing five years after graduation?
Ahlise: Playing basketball for the most part. I’m thinking maybe majoring in psychology, so, maybe a sports psychologist. Something that’s still involved with sports, or basketball, or really anything. I still want to be involved in the basketball community in some way if I’m not playing basketball.
Joe: Besides basketball, what else are your interests?
Ahlise: I like Netflix. I like to watch movies. Comedy mainly. I like funny stuff. There’s a movie coming out I want to see. It’s called The Spy Who Dumped Me. It sounds funny. I’ve mainly been sleeping so I haven’t picked up another hobby since I’ve been here.
Joe: Well, it’s been a short time. Hopefully, you get a chance to get out and see things outside the city. Albuquerque is a city, but it’s the things outside the city that makes New Mexico different. Thank you very much again. I appreciate your time.