By Ray Hamill — From Eureka to Kansas to Alabama, it’s been an interesting journey for former Big 5 standout Alana Busby-Dunphy, who recently received a full ride scholarship to play basketball for the Crimson Tide.
The red-shirt freshman will head to Tuscaloosa this summer to join the prestigious Division-I program, taking the next step in her athletic and academic careers.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Busby-Dunphy, who broke her foot as a freshman playing for the Dodge City Conquistadors, and by her own admission had a tough time mentally getting over that injury while living so far from home.
But the setback only made her stronger.
“After I broke my foot, I was feeling a little down,” the 2018 Eureka graduate said. “But my coaches, they built me up. They built me up to be stronger, especially the mental side of the game.”
Busby-Dunphy returned this past season, appearing in 29 games for the 15-16 Dodge City women, including 16 starts in the last 18 games.
The Conquistadors play in the highly-competitive Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, which features multiple future Division-I athletes in just about every sport, and when they contacted Busby-Dunphy during her senior year of high school and offered her a scholarship, she jumped at the opportunity.
Although she didn’t exactly believe them at first.
“They contacted my mom and we didn’t know if it was a scam or if it was real,” she said. “They offered me a full ride and I didn’t even know JCs had scholarships.”
They do in Kansas, and after a visit to the Dodge City campus, Busby-Dunphy decided it was a perfect fit.
Early this past season, the Alabama coaches saw her play at a showcase event in Texas and the former Logger caught their eye.
She went on an official visit in December and wasted no time in accepting a full-ride offer to play there.
“I was kind of in shock,” she said. “I’ve never been to a college like that before, and seeing all the facilities they have there were amazing.”
The step up in facilities won’t be the only change for the criminal justice major when she heads to Tuscaloosa in early June.
“Because of the bigger size (in Division I), I’m probably going to switch positions,” said the long-time 6-foot-3 post player. “I’ve been playing center my whole life and now I’ll switch to a four or three-guard.”
But she’s embracing the new challenge.
“I’m not worried,” she said. “If a coach tells me to do something, I’m going to try.”
The former Logger is well aware she is going to have to fight hard for her place at a D-I program.
“I’m just going there to get better and do the best I can,” she said.
Busby-Dunphy was a three-year varsity player at Eureka after a freshman season playing varsity at Arcata High, where she was briefly a part of the great Tigers dynasty that won six straight league titles.
And she says she learned a lot while playing for head coach Dusty Scofield’s team.
“I had a great time that year,” she said. “It was different going from eighth grade and playing with a bunch of seniors. Physically it was a lot for a freshman, but they really helped me out.”
Her time at Eureka also helped Busby-Dunphy’s game, both physically and mentally.
“I had a really good time there too,” she said. “I got to develop a lot there.”
Busby-Dunphy also paid tribute to the numerous coaches and influences she has had in her career, with one standing out above all others.
“My mom (Alia) has been a huge influence on me,” she said. “She told me to keep going when I felt I wasn’t good enough. She never pushed me too much, but she always pushed me just enough.
“And just the coaches I’ve had. I’ve had some really great coaches.”
In particular, Busby-Dunphy said middle school basketball coach Chad Regan has had a big influence on her game all the way through high school, as well as Pam Martin and Carol Harrison.
The Tide women will feature five new players on their roster this year after going 14-17 this past season. They qualified for the NIT in each of the three previous seasons.
“Alana brings depth to our post position with her length and shot blocking ability,” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry told Sports Illustrated. “She will have three years remaining and we are excited to watch her development in our program as she possesses a tremendous upside.”
Busby-Dunphy averaged 4.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game in her lone campaign with the Conquistadors, while showcasing her defensive presence with 23 multi-block games.