Canberran Carlie Smith named nation's top three-on-three player

When Carlie Smith walked away from basketball, she knew she needed help.

The basketball court was where her carefree nature flourished, but a battle with "severe depression and extreme anxiety" in her late teens saw her hang up her basketball shoes.

Today the 23-year-old is Australian basketball's best three-on-three player, with an international gold medal to her name and an eye on the 2020 Olympic Games.

She knows the importance of being strong enough to seek help - it put her on the path towards international success.

Canberra is punching well above its weight with Sarah McAppion and Isabelle Bourne rounding out the top three players in the country.

A wave of new players followed their path when Basketball ACT hosted round two of its three-on-three championships at Belconnen Stadium on Friday.

But it hasn't always been easy for Smith, which makes her bubbly personality even more remarkable.

"When I was about 17, 18, I was going through some pretty hard times and I was diagnosed with severe depression and extreme anxiety, as well as coeliac disease," Smith said.

"I was going through a fair bit when I was a bit younger. It was pretty difficult for a few close people around me when I was dealing with all that stuff.

"At the end of the day I had to find help, I found help, and do things that made me happy, which was basketball.

"Basketball is really good outlet for me, where I can just go and have fun, be around friends and and go to new places. Basketball has really helped me with all that sort of stuff.

"I was playing since I was about 10, but then when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and stuff, I sort of stopped for a while."

Smith finished school in year 11 before studying fine arts at TAFE, a decision that ultimately put her in a good mental space.

She was able to express herself through art, and soon returned to the one thing that made her truly happy - basketball.

"I hit a bit of a low point and then I went and got help at Headspace and they were really great," Smith said.

"I realised that exercise and basketball were what made me really happy, and it was an outlet for me, so I took it back up.

"Ever since then taking it back up, I've won a conference final in SEABL for Bendigo and I've won a gold medal for Australia now. It's all pretty exciting."

While the three-on-three revolution is taking up a lot of her time, Smith will have her eye on a Queensland Basketball League title when she links up with the Sunshine Coast in February.

She's in "a happy space" at the moment, and a stint in Queensland will be perfect for a person like her - "I really love the coastal lifestyle," Smith laughs.

"At the moment Olympics would be my dream," Smith said.

"I'd also like to get overseas for three-on-three because I know it's quite big overseas to have different pro leagues and whatnot. Getting overseas and getting that exposure would be really awesome.

"At the moment my goal is QBL and winning that championship, as well as playing all my three-on-three stuff and seeing how far I can go with that."

This story Canberran Carlie Smith named nation's top three-on-three player first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.