The National Secondary Schools’ Basketball Championships tip-off in Palmerston North next week. Across the 24 teams there will be an abundance of talent on display. Here are some names worth keeping a close eye on.
Sam Waardenburg (Rangitoto College) – The 6ft8 guard will be a vital player for the defending champions. A junior Tall Black who represented New Zealand at the 3×3 World Championships earlier this year, Waardenburg led Rangitoto to the Zone 1 title and has landed himself a NCAA Division I scholarship at the University of Miami in 2017.
Taine Waitte (Rosmini College) – After a sluggish start to the Auckland Championships, Rosmini won 12 games on the trot to capture the title. The quick, skilful and free scoring Waitte was a major factor in the success. He top-scored in an extra-time victory over Westlake BHS and contributed double-digit figures in both wins against Rangitoto College.
Isaac Letoa (Westlake BHS) – A junior Tall Black, Letoa was selected for the Wellington U17’s as a 14 year-old before shifting to Auckland. At Westlake he has been involved two National finals. A swift mover with great hands and an accurate jump shot, Letoa is the architect of most of Westlake’s offense.
Panashe Nyashanu (Hamilton BHS) – Hamilton BHS won the Zone 2 tourney with a series of massive victories. The scores were: St. Paul’s Collegiate (114-31), Trident High School (111-48), St. John’s College B (101-28), Gisborne BHS (93-34), Te Awamutu College (101-81), Tauranga BC (81-62), Melville High School (87-51), St. John’s College, Hamilton (96-69). Hamilton are a vastly improved side. The achieved a top three finish in Super 8 and could cause some upsets. Nyashanu is a house captain who plays with maturity. He is quick across the floor and has the ability to get inside the key and score regularly.
Jaxson MacFarlane (Napier BHS) – Napier BHS won the Super 8 and MacFarlane captaining the side and making the tournament team was an integral competent of that success. Standing nearly two-meters tall, MacFarlane has represented the Hawke’s Bay Hawks in the last two seasons of the National Basketball League.
Marcos Edwards (Hastings BHS) – The Super 8 player of the tournament in 2015 was in fine form during the Zone 3 tourney top-scoring twice in victories for his side. Edwards is a sharp-shooter with speed and agility.
Taane Samuels (Scots College) – After topping the first round of the Wellington competition, Scots fell away in the finals because Samuels was overseas. The big man is a prolific scorer who seeks domination inside the key. Samuels proved his quality when he top-scored against eventual Wellington finalists St. Pats Town and Wellington College in Scots victories.
Callum McRae (Palmerston North BHS) – The tallest player in New Zealand stands 7ft1 and has been the subject of interest from several US universities. A New Zealand U17 representative who was selected for the NBA Basketball Without Boarders camp in Melbourne, McRae with his sheer size is obviously a formidable asset for Palmerston North.
Corey Le’aupepe (St. Pats Town) – Top scored in the Wellington final with 30 points, the guard has been vital in Town’s Wellington and Zone 3 championship triumphs. Strong inside the key, Le’aupepe in a robust defender as well who frequently tops the rebound and blocks count.
Quinn Clinton (Christchurch BHS) – The Canterbury Ram was named MVP of the Canterbury final after a 15/10/7 outing against Burnside High School. Clinton was the top scorer in the Canterbury competition and was in imperial form during the Zone 4 tourney. Christchurch appear to be the strongest team from the South Island.
Hunter Aarts (Christ’s College) – Christ’s bounced back from 20 and 40 point thrashings to Cashmere High School during the season to beat them by three points in the third-fourth playoff at the South Island championships. The result completed a remarkable turnaround from a year ago, when Christ’s finished 13th in the South Island. Christ’s are heading to the AA Nationals for the first time and captain and centre Hunter Aarts is one to watch. A rep standard player, Aarts had an accurate jump shot and can be a big presence inside the key.
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