The stories continue to flow with young Kiwi basketballers attracting scholarships to play in the near-professional environment of Division 1 basketball. One of those young players is James Moors, who has signed for Drake University.
Moors was approached by no less than ten Division 1 universities based in the US. The Iowa based Drake University won out with an offer of a full-ride four-year scholarship.
The scholarship is worth around NZD$400,000 and covers tuition, room and board, study books, cost of attendance, all the gear and a trip abroad when the team goes on tour.
“I chose Drake because it was the best overall fit for me basketball-wise and academically, and I believe they provide me with the best opportunity to go to the NBA. The relationship with the coaches is very special. They wanted me more than all the other schools and I really value that. I believe in them and they believe in me, they have a great plan for my success there.
Moors said the fact that Drake Bulldogs’ Assistant Coach, Ali Farokhmanesh, coached “a fellow Westlaker” and Tall Black Tai Webster at Nebraska University, was a big factor in his decision making.
“Coach Ali helped Tai go onto great things and Tai even reached out to my coaches recommending I choose Drake. The feeling clicked on my visit and my mum and I knew it was a great fit for me.
“I visited Portland, San Francisco, and Drake. Drake was my third visit and we got a gut feeling about it. There were so many good things about the basketball team, school and campus.
“Coach Ali contacted me first, he saw my highlight tape from Custom College Recruiting and then Tai Webster reached out to him and told him about me. Coach Ali started recruiting me around June, and him and the whole coaching staff came to see me play in LA for the double pump tournament and then in Las Vegas for the Fab 48 tournament.”
Moors has come a long way since first playing basketball in Year Four for his Willow Park Primary School team. It wasn’t long before he found his way to the Harbour Basketball Association and he’s been playing there ever since, but his success is something he doesn’t consider a solo effort.
“I want to thank my Mum. She has been a solo parent my whole High School life and has done an amazing job looking after my five younger siblings and I.
“I also want to thank my Dad. His financial aid has given me the opportunity to play overseas and get the exposure I needed. I’d like to thank the rest of my family and friends for pushing me to get to this level and always having my back. My coaches Zac, Morgan, Kevin, Mike and everyone else who has helped develop me on and off the court over the years. I’d also like to thank Custom College Recruiting for all the exposure they gave me, Harbour Basketball for the endless opportunities I have been given and Westlake for everything academically, basketball wise, and the brotherhood I have and will always be a part of.”
Moors says he has always loved basketball for as long as he can remember, and says it’s that love and drive to achieve his goals that has helped make it to this level.
“In Year 11, when I didn't even make the top 40 players in the country for the New Zealand Under 16 team trial, I was heartbroken and wanted to prove everyone wrong. From that moment I set some massive goals for myself: win the U17 National Title and MVP, make the New Zealand U18 team, the New Zealand U18 3x3 team, make the Nike All Asia and Adidas Nations camps, and get a Division 1 scholarship.”
Now that contract has been signed with Drake, Moors has achieved all of those goals. And while basketball remains his ultimate ambition, with his sights set firmly on the NBA, he also says his academic goals are close behind.
“I hope to gain a degree that will set me up for life after basketball, perhaps studying some form of business. It was good to find out Drake is a private school with caps of a 1-18 teacher-student ratio, and their degrees are one of the top in the country, being internationally recognized. And I hope to develop into the best basketball player I can be, in preparation for the NBA.”
To keep up with James Moors adventures, follow him on instagram @james_moors.
There's been plenty of great secondary school basketball this year. Below are five individual boys and girls we've watched and spoken to in 2017.
Mitchell Dance (Rosmini College) - Dance wasn’t even supposed to go to Nationals after injuring his ankle in Rosmini’s Zone I success, but the guard is made of tough stuff and showed his exceptional quality by winning Nationals MVP as Rosmini won the title for the first time since 2011. Dance top scored for his team in the final collecting 26 points and 10 rebounds. Dance has been a regular selection in national age group rep teams.
Max de Geest (Christ’s College) - Christ’s were massive improvers in basketball this season rising from 20th to 4th at Nationals, losing to eventual winners Rosmini College in overtime in the semi-finals. Much of Christ’s improvement was driven by guard Max de Geest. The leading scorer for Christ’s in their narrow 62-60 loss to Cashmere in the Thompson Cup final, de Geest drove the team to even greater heights when he helped Christ’s claim the South Island title for the first time and then was named on the tournament team at Nationals. In 2018 the National age-group rep will head to Division 1 NCAA College Long Beach State on a basketball scholarship.
Dan Fotu (Rangitoto College) - At some stage in mid-2018 Daniel Fotu will head to San Francisco to link up with NCAA Division I outfit St Mary’s College. Fotu was again outstanding in the Rangitoto singlet in 2017. He led his school to the Auckland title and top scored with 28 points in the National final as Rangitoto narrowly lost to Rosmini. Fotu has been a New Zealand rep at Under 16, 17, 18 and 19 levels.
Grace Hunter (St Mary’s College) - The national age group representative guard was the outstanding captain of the St Mary’s team in 2017 who swept the Wellington, Zone III and National titles. Hunter scored 11 points in the final; against St Peter’s Cambridge and always impressed with her quick, dribbling, precise passing and astute leadership. She was named Wellington girls Basketballer of the Year at the College Sport Wellington Awards.
Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge) - Leger-Walker is the most dominant age group female player in New Zealand. She was named MVP of the National Secondary Schools tourney in October as well as the under-19 and 23 Nationals MVP this year. Charlisse is a regular starter in the Waikato Wizards in the National Women’s competition and at only 15 years of age is on the cusp of Tall Ferns selection already.
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2017. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand