South West Slammer Leigh Rickwood-Pitt has shown the WA basketball community what he is made of this year with ambitious goals and a focused mindset pushing his dream to become a pro athlete closer to reality. Aiming to slam dunk his way to the Australian Institute of Sport in the next few years, Rickwood-Pitt, 18, is the Busselton Freight Services Rising Sports Star for February. With unwavering determination driving him to new levels every month, the Busselton athlete said he was pleased to be selected for the award which is his second nomination in two years. Rickwood-Pitt competes against former Wildcats stars in his NBL 1 South West Slammers team and said the nomination proved he was still a force in the basketball community. “I feel pretty good to have been nominated for a second year in a row,” he said. “It makes it obvious that I’m still being noticed for my achievements in the region and getting support from people who recognise that I’m doing well in basketball.” After graduating from high school in 2020, the young star was set to travel to Florida to compete in an Australian college scouting team in the Amateur Athletic Union tournament. But a broken wrist just one month earlier thrust his plans into disarray. He said the injury had been a “disappointing blow” but the feeling was short-lived as he turned his focus to a range of opportunities at the start of this year. “I ended up going to WA Nationals in May and now I’m just focusing on trying to make it to the National Basketball League or the Australian Institute of Sport,” he said. Rickwood-Pitt said his favourite part of the sport was experiencing high-level competition and a continuous learning curve. “In the State Basketball League, the crowd and all the players I come up against teach me a lot. Being able to play against ex-Wildcats and knowing I’m up against some of the best people helps me to learn from the game and get better and better,” he said. He said competing in the WA Nationals earlier this year was “a great wake up call”. “It showed me I need to keep putting the work in if I want to get to the National Basketball League,” he said. He said making the AIS, the NBL, or playing for Australia in the Olympics were big goals he would continue to push for.