Basketball is experiencing huge growth in NZ, which in turn is making the depth of talent even more impressive. Here is our top 4 for 2015.
When Logan Elers was Year 10 at Rotorua Boys’ High School, basketball wasn’t a sport taken very seriously. Elers remembers “walking” into the top team and several boys in his first season missing training on a regular basis.
This year Rotorua finished fourth at the National Championships and lost to eventual winners Rangitoto College by one point in extra time in the semi-finals.
Elers was a big part of Rotorua's dramatic improvement. He was selected for the nationals tournament team and has been a regular on the representative circuit having played for the Rotorua seniors, New Zealand Under-18's and trailed for the Breakers.
Logan is the deputy sports captain at school and a part time maths tutor. He has been awarded the most outstanding player at Boys’ High for the last four years.
The Westlake Boys' High School captain is headed to the University of Oklahoma on scholarship in 2016 and as they American's say he will bring "game."
Freeman was a colossus at the National Championships. He led Westlake to their second consecutive final and in the last three games of the tournament scored 50 points, 47 points and 28 points.
Freeman has represented New Zealand at age group level.
He made his debut for the Otago Nuggets in 2013 when he was just 15, becoming the youngest player in the franchise's history.
In 2014 he scored 26 points and collected 23 rebounds in the National Secondary Schools final as Otago BHS upset Westlake BHS.
In 2015 Timmins moved schools to Middleton Grange in Canterbury. He played an entire season for the Canterbury Rams in the National Basketball League and helped Middleton Grange become a national force.
Middleton won the South Island Regional title and finished in 5th at Nationals losing just one game by five points to eventual finalists Westlake BHS.
It's been another remarkable year for the Rangitoto College rig. Last year he made his debut for the Tall Blacks and added to his international experience in 2015 by playing in the Oceania qualifying series against Australia.
Wynyard has earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Kentucky in the US in 2016. Kentucky is the winningest NCAA Division I basketball program in history, holding both the most all-time wins (2178) and the highest all-time winning percentage (.764). They have won eight national titles and contributed several players to the NBA.
On the subject of National titles, Wynyard gained that illusive prize in New Zealand this year leading Rangitoto to the crown after finishing third in 2014 and second in 2013.
Wynyard was named MVP of the tournament and the final. In the final he scored 23 points and collected 19 rebounds.
Female basketball takes a back seat to netball in NZ, but if you look to the USA, there are perhaps better prospects for these girls than many realise ... Our top 4 for 2015 are:
Wellington Girls’ College won their third consecutive Wellington title and Graham was the teams' leading scorer.
At the Nationals Wellington was second to St. Peter's and Graham made the tournament team finishing among the top scorers at the tourney. Her 27-point effort in the semi-finals against Christchurch GHS was especially impressive.
Graham has made back to back NZ Schools finals in her last two years at Wellington Girls.
The Porirua 17-year-old has regularly represented her country at age-group level and next June will take up a four-year scholarship at BYU in Provo, Utah.
Other American colleges, such as Boise State and University of Hawaii, were interested, but BYU was always her top choice because of her Mormon faith.
Salmon made the tournament team at Nationals after big performances for her Wellington Girls' College.
She has been one of the most sought after high school talents in New Zealand.
Remarkably, Charlisse is only Year 9, but she can already boast two national titles (3x3 and senior). She was named on the National’s tournament team and has represented New Zealand at Under-16 and 17 levels.
It's hard to recall a Year 9 student that has had such a strong impact in basketball in which the height and weight of older athletes is usually a considerable advantage.
The Tall Fern guided St Peter’s School in Cambridge to a national 3x3 and Senior title. She was named MVP of the tournament and dominated in combination with her younger Charlisse sister.
Between them in the finals the sisters scored 90 of St. Peter's 162 points. Krystal played close to a perfect game in the decider. She scored 14 points snatched eight rebounds and shared six assists.
The sisters’ most important performance was perhaps a game earlier in the semi-finals against Hamilton Girls’ High School. In a tough and low scoring affair, Hamilton led 28-19 at halftime. The sisters stepped up big time in the second half and St. Peter's won 43-40. Krystal ended with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Charlisse scored 15 points and collected 15 rebounds.
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