When the Florida Gators Women’s basketball team drafted Australian forward Kristina Moore last season, they snagged the sixth best international prospect in the 2018 class (per ProspectsNation.com).
However, the Florida athletic program benefitted twice from her arrival.
Indeed, her off-season may look a touch different from her Gators teammates, for Moore will be busy competing for the Florida Gators track and field team. The dual-athlete is a talented discus thrower, having represented Australia at the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Games where she won gold. More impressive still, in 2016 she was ranked 7th in the IAAF World U18 discus rankings, with a personal best of 51.53m.
It was her performance on the track that largely led to her being named the 2016 Sportswoman of the Year at her Sydney high school, Abbotsleigh. This is not to say she doesn’t have an impressive basketball CV, however.
In 2015, she went on a short term school exchange to Ridley College in Ontario, Canada, where as a sophomore she led the team to victory at the Canadian Independent Schools national tournament – being named MVP along the way.
Returning home, she won a gold medal as a junior playing with New South Wales (NSW) at the School Sport Australia basketball championships, and then competed at the 2017 Australian Under 20 Basketball Championships.
Her dual-athletic talents made her a natural fit in Florida, and her first season outputs have been solid. Starting 20 games and averaging 26 minutes per contest, she averages a healthy 6 points, 1 assist and 3 rebounds per game – shooting just under 65% from the charity stripe.
Playing as a relatively small 6’1 hybrid forward, it is her ability to thrive in small ball rotations that is perhaps of most value to her Gators teammates. This skill was no more evident than her performance against Northwestern University in November, where she poured in a season high 12 points, to go with 7 assists in a 39-minute showing.
The Pick and Roll caught up with Moore last week, following the Gators final game of their 2018/19 season.
The Pick and Roll: What has it been like playing overseas, and balancing your time between two sports and commitments?
Kristina Moore: “Playing overseas is a whole lot different from playing at home. I can’t explain how, but it’s just different. The professionalism and standards you set have to be higher in order to fit in and succeed.
In terms of balancing my time, that hasn’t been too bad, as I already tried my best to do that during high school. I’ve always been lucky to have decent organisational skills on that front.
I think the biggest thing is just making sure you stay on top of your school work. That’s been the hardest part so far about the move.”
PnR: How did your basketball journey begin in Australia?
KM: “My basketball career began for me when Bonnie Johnson (NCAA) approached me at little athletics one night in 2011, and said that I was tall and that I should come and try my hand at my local basketball trials which were the following week. That’s really it.
It was a complete moment of luck – that has set me down what has been a really enjoyable path so far.”
PnR: When did you start hearing from/getting interest from overseas scouts and colleges?
KM: “I started getting interest from colleges during an AAU tournament I played in Texas through AUSA Hoops.”
PnR: who did you get offers from?
“I got offers from a few different schools. If I’m honest, I actually can’t remember them all, and I can’t remember which ones just showed interest rather than offering me a place.”
Thankfully, your scribe was able to find out more about this question. Moore wasn’t lying when she said she can’t remember all the schools she got offers from. Prospects Nation reported last year that Moore took official visits to Florida, Kansas State, San Francisco and Santa Clara – before settling with the Gators.
PnR: So, why Florida?
KM: “I chose Florida because after my visit and the conversations with the athletic staff there, I felt like they would be the best at helping me make the transition overseas.The coaches were extremely friendly, and so open and honest with their thoughts.
“The weather was also definitely a big tick.”
PnR: How has the Florida program transformed/improved your game in your first year there?
KM: “I think my shooting has been the aspect of my game that has changed the most. In my junior years, I would rely on my size, and almost never shot outside the key. Now I take a lot of shots from beyond the arc.
I didn’t really make them this year, but that’s ok! There’s a lot of room for improvement on that front. One of the coach’s philosophies is to keep trusting our game, and keep shooting even when it might not be dropping – so I think that will help me long term.
Other than that, I think my general basketball IQ has improved – and that comes from playing with the older girls, and watching elite players in the conference do their thing.”
PnR: What are your future basketball goals?
KM: “To be honest, I don’t really have many long-term goals at this stage. I think it’s more about just continuing to improve each year, and to try and keep proving myself as a player, and as a person.”