Food poisoning cut short 16-year-old point guard Jordan Rangitawa’s New Zealand Under 19 basketball camp last weekend but she has plenty more to look forward to this year.
The year 13 student, who is entering her fifth and final year in the Hutt Valley High School Senior A basketball team, has big aspirations.
Among those are getting selected to the New Zealand Under 19 team to play in the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia in August this year, as well as trying to earn a scholarship to play in the United States next year.
Part of competing for a spot in the New Zealand Under 19 team was the New Zealand basketball age group selection camp held in Auckland this past weekend.
Unfortunately, Rangitawa came down with food poisoning and said she was “absolutely gutted” that she had to return home early from the camp.
If she is successful in making the New Zealand Under 19 team it will add to her growing list of representative honours. In the past few years, Rangitawa has been selected for Wellington Under 17, New Zealand U16, and the New Zealand Basketball Academy Varsity team.
In addition to making the New Zealand U19 team, she also had goals of claiming the Wellington Female Basketball Player of the Year and performing well individually and as a team at this years national secondary school tournament.
These lofty goals are backed up by Rangitawa’s exceptional work ethic; she has basketball specific training seven times a week and also goes to the gym twice a day. “I always take a day off to rest and recover though,” she said.
Rangitawa has also played representative level netball, as well as touch and volleyball but has recently focused solely on basketball in the hope of gaining a United States college basketball scholarship. An opportunity she said some of her friends are already relishing.
“I have a few friends overseas at the moment experiencing this,” she said. “They love it over there.”
When it comes to role models Rangitawa doesn’t have to look further than her own household. She said her parents were her biggest role models and they have helped in so many different ways, from fundraising for her basketball trips to putting things into perspective for her.
“Not only do I wanna continue with basketball because this is what I want, but also I want to succeed because of them,” she said.
The Auckland secondary school Premier Boys Basketball competition starts early next term and runs through the winter months, leading up to the Championship final this year on 22 August.
Some of the best secondary sport in the country occurs on Friday nights around Auckland’s school basketball courts – such as when Westlake Boys’ High School plays keen rivals Rosmini College, who are the defending Auckland Premier and NZSS AA champions and who are currently in Crete contesting the Basketball World Schools Championship.
“That is a big game, with 500-1000 people watching. We will play one home and one away game against them, and then if we meet for a third time it will be in a quarter-final, semi-final or final, whatever that may be,” says Westlake’s Sam Mennenga.
Last year it was the quarter-final, and Rosmini won, consigning Westlake to an eventual fifth placed finish. Sam wasn’t playing that night, but he had good reason to be elsewhere. “I was away in Thailand with the Junior Tall Blacks at the time and once I got back the season was over,” Sam laments.
A fortnight ago the tables were turned. Sam helped Westlake win the NZSS 3 x 3 Senior Championships in Tauranga – beating Rosmini 18-14 in the final and winning all 11 games at the tournament.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. They are quite a small but aggressive team, so we used our height against them and we came out on top,” he enthuses.
Other members of the winning Westlake 3 x 3 team were fellow year 13s Dylan Wilkie and Campbell Atkinson and year 12 Josh Kooiman.
How does 3 x 3 basketball compare to playing full court five-a-side basketball? “It is more one-on-one and a quick-paced game. It is played on a half court, if you get the rebound you go outside the 3-point line and you come back in and go at the same hoop.”
Sam hopes that win can be a springboard to success in both Auckland and nationally, where Westlake haven’t won since 2015.
First there are some trips overseas with the Junior Tall Blacks – starting this week.
The team is playing an invitation pre-World Cup tournament in China. “We are playing some European national teams and the Chinese national team. It is a practice run before the World Champs in Greece.
At the World Champs starting at the end of June, the Junior Tall Blacks meet the best first up. “We have got the top dogs the USA in our pool - I am really excited to go at them and see what they have got.”
Following the USA, NZ plays Senegal and Lithuania in pool play.
Sam and the Junior Tall Blacks qualified for the World Championships at the aforementioned trip to Thailand last year. The team finished second at the Asia Championships and qualified for the FIBA U19 World Championships in Greece this coming July.
In February, Sam, along with St Peter’s School’s Charlisse Leger-Walker, attended the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in North Carolina in the United States.
“It was a camp with the top 60 males and females our age from throughout the world. We trained for three days and we got put into a team and played against other, with NBA scouts and the big GMs, as well as some professional players.”
No Steve Adams though. “I was hoping he would be there, but I think it was a Nike thing and he is an Adidas athlete.”
Sam was grateful for the experience. “I was pretty nervous at the start, but once I got on the court I just played.”
The BWB camp serves as a stage to win college scholarships.
“I have got a couple of offers, but I am not going to choose my college until the end of this year,” says Sam.
Sam started playing basketball when he was 12. “I followed on from my older brother, who was playing. I played in the same team for Westlake with him together.”
He used to played rugby and football, but now the focus is on basketball.
Sam Mennenga attended the Steven Adams' basketball camps featured on Maori Television's new show Holding Court on Maori Television on Wednesday, April 17, 8.30pm.
St Peter’s, Cambridge won their second successive 3x3 national Girls title after beating Hamilton Girls 15 - 7. St Peter’s put on a defensive masterclass, snuffing out any opportunity Hamilton had to score. They would lead from the outset, with Dominique Stephens and Charlisse Leger-Walker scoring the majority of their points and negating all of Hamilton’s attempts to keep the game close.
Earlier in the day, Hamilton Boys took out the junior boys open grade after they toppled St Peter’s, Cambridge. Hamilton led by 5 with fewer than 2 minutes to go but a couple of quick scores brought the game close. However, the boys in red managed to grind out the win with one last score to finish 13-11.
Westlake Girls won the junior girls open grade when they beat Mount Maunganui College Parauri 16-9. Westlake was always in control of their final and kicked off the winning run for the North Shore schools. Westlake Boys would then make it two from two for Harbour when they defeated Te Kura Kokiri Tane in the senior boys open final. Kura put up a tough fight but couldn’t match Westlake’s shooting and would go down 19-13.
Westlake Girls made it three out of a possible four open grade final wins following their win over Tauranga Girls in the senior girls open final. Tauranga was leading the game right up until the last minute before a light shower inside the Trustpower arena saw Westlake make it rain and tie the game up with only seconds to spare. Westlake would then make them pay for letting it go the extra period, sinking another two to keep the North Shore’s unbeaten finals streak alive in a 12-10 win.
The junior girls elite final was played out between Westlake Girls and Tai Wananga, the lowest scoring final of the afternoon. The bulk of the game’s points came from beyond the arc as both teams found it difficult to have the ball fall through the hoop when coming within 10 feet of it. A handful of defensive stops for Westlake would be the difference in the end, as a Tai Wananga long range two would rattle off the rim and give Westlake an 11-9 victory.
Hastings boys beat St Thomas of Canterbury in a tight affair that had to be settled in overtime. The game was dominated by points inside the paint but come the last minute it was all long-range jump shots. St Thomas relied heavily on big man Hunter Adam who scored all but one of his team’s points. The back and forth bout saw Adam, who was at this point running on fumes, sink a 2 pointer with only 10 seconds left and send the game the extra distance. His efforts would cruelly prove to be not enough, as the first possession in overtime saw Hastings rattle home their own deuce and take the crown.
The senior boys elite grade was played out between Westlake and Rosmini, a contest which would give the rivals bragging rights up until Schick Champs (AA Nationals) later this year. The final would live up to the pregame hype, with both teams bringing their A-game and starting fast out of the blocks. Rosmini would lead during the early stages thanks to their two-point shooting, but Westlake would battle back from inside and keep Rosmini’s interior defence honest with a pair of And-1s. With the game in the balance and the championship on the line, Westlake would convert on a long-range jumper and then turn a Rosmini miss into a momentum-shifting dunk. They would then follow this up with a defensive stop, gifting Sam Mennenga a clear run to the hoop which he thankfully accepted and flushed home with a roof-raising two-handed jam. Rosmini was deflated at this point but to their credit pushed right through to the final buzzer and finished gracious runners-up in an 18-14 loss.
Thomas Kepa from Rotorua Boys took home the 3 point shootout after sinking 5 triples in 26 seconds.
At just 16 years of age, Tuhua Taikato-Litz from St Peter's, Cambridge is the youngest player in the New Zealand Deaf Basketball team. Not only that, he is also the team’s new vice-captain.
Tuhua’s selection was announced last week after trials for the open men's team.
“I was so happy, I just wanted to tell my family because I knew they’d be so proud of me,” he said
Tuhua has played for the St Peter’s senior premier boys’ team for the past two years.
The new team will present a bit of a challenge for Tuhua because not only will he have to work with new players, he also needs to become fluent in sign language. He started learning sign language when he was five, but stopped three years later because his hearing aids allow him to hear well.
“Communicating with people will be a bit hard, but I’m going to learn. My coach doesn’t speak sign, so he can talk to me, but there’s also a translator who can translate for other people in the team,” he said.
“Off the court, it will be okay, but in the game, I’ll have to really focus and learn people’s expressions and what they mean.”
Over the next few weeks, Tuhua will meet his other team members. They will then begin training for the Asia Pacific Deaf Games in November in Hong Kong.
Tuhua is big on teamwork and wants to help the Black Thunders win every game possible. Even if they lose some, he will make sure the players keep their heads up and stay focused.
“We got into New York and a few of the boys had shorts and jandals on. It was -14 degrees,” Kalib Mullins laughs when reflecting on the initial culture shock experienced by the Rotorua Boys’ High School basketball team on their recent US tour.
For a fortnight 22 students, including the senior A team, traveled through New York, Boston and Philadelphia playing basketball and absorbing as much of the local culture as possible.
The Rotorua players were split into two teams. Each team won three out of five games against American high schools. The style of play and the environments in which the fixtures were contested were vastly different from home.
“The first game we played was against the Gators in New York. We were interrogated by security and put in the tenth gym at the school,” Mullins recalls.
“The facilities were amazing, the crowds got stuck in, but the style of play was quite individual and fast. In New Zealand we tend to share the ball more. In the US each school has one or two star players.”
Rotorua’s top team won that first game by a point and generally surprised Americans with their talent, tenacity and of course the haka.
“I think the haka freaked them out a bit,” Mullins chuckled.
“They were surprised at how big and physical we were. We were determined to compete and try and win every game.”
Rotorua Boys' basketball director Theo Tait confirmed this sentiment in the Rotorua Daily Post.
“A lot of the kids at the schools we played had never heard of New Zealand before and if they did, it was all about rugby. I think overall, we woke them up a bit on the basketball side, we have some really talented boys.”
Mullins himself is a 6 ft 6 power forward in Year 13. He enjoys bustling inside the key, but has developed a longer range shooting game. His ambitions for Rotorua are high. The US trip is not intended to be a ‘rest on our laurels’ junket.
“We’ve got a real good brotherhood and great coaches. Our goal is to keep working hard and try and win the National championship,” Mullins warns.
Rotorua were 16th at Nationals last year but in 2015 finished fourth, narrowly losing the semi-final to eventual champions Rangitoto College. Rotorua’s present coach Mark Elers was involved with that 2015 campaign with his son Logan Elers earning a scholarship to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Rotorua saw plenty of top class talent in the US attending the following NBA games:
Philadelphia 76ers v San Antonio Spurs
New York Knicks v Miami Heat
Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets
“Going to the NBA was amazing. In Philadelphia they put us in a corporate box which was like, ‘no way,’" Elers said.
“The level of competitiveness is something to really aspire to. I think that was the biggest lesson I learned.”
Learning the history of the sport was also an invaluable lesson. In Massachusetts the boys visited the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame while in Manhattan they stepped on to the floor of the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.
“That was huge. Madison Square Garden has so much history and it’s not just sport, it’s music and everything else.” Elers marveled.
Rotorua performed a haka to honour Kiwi Ross McMains who is part of the Knicks coaching team there.
Each boy had to pay $6500 to make the trip. A year of fundraising occurred, but Mullins reached his target quickly.
“My father used some his rugby connections to help auction off an autographed Maori All Blacks centenary jersey. We got seven and a half grand for that,” Mullins explains.
“I saved half for myself and put the rest in a team fund.”
Kalib’s father Mike Mullins played 116 games for Munster and 16 tests for Ireland.
Two young Kiwi talents have been selected for the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in the United States. It will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, 15-17 February.
Tall Fern and 2019 St Peter's School head girl Charlisse Leger-Walker has become the first-ever female from New Zealand to be selected, while Junior Tall Black and Westlake Boys’ High School student Sam Mennenga has also been called up.
Run in partnership by the NBA and FIBA, there have been 56 BWB camps in 35 cities in 28 countries on six continents since 2001. Of the BWB alumni, 53 have been drafted into the NBA. The most recent NBA Draft in 2018 saw two former BWB Global participants selected in the top 11 picks.
FIBA and the NBA have announced the top 63 boys and girls from 31 countries and regions who will attend.
This is the fifth BWB Global Camp, where players are selected ‘based on their outstanding basketball skills and leadership abilities’. While a small selection of Kiwis are often invited to attend the BWB Asia Camp each year, through a Basketball New Zealand and FIBA talent identification process, the BWB Global Camp is an even tougher club to be in.
The Global is offered to invite-only attendees who are considered the best in their age-group from around the world. It includes being hosted and trained by NBA and WNBA stars, and coincides with the chance to attend the NBA All Star game and to meet the stars.
Leger-Walker, who played a big role in helping the Tall Ferns secure a Bronze Medal at the 2019 Commonwealth Games this year, says this invitation is a great privilege and one she’s looking forward to.
“I expect to be challenged by coaches who have experience at a high level and maybe even on an international stage. This opportunity is very exciting because it will allow me to learn and grow as a player, and it will also enable me to identify what I will need to work on to add to my skill set. Plus it is also around the NBA All Stars game, so I might get to watch some of that!”
Sam Mennenga was selected to be a part of the Junior Tall Blacks in the 2018 Asia championships in Thailand where the team placed second and qualified for the FIBA World Championships, which will be held in Greece July 2019. The 17 year old says this camp is a big deal due to the opportunity to play against the best high school players in the world.
“I am excited about the Camp because I will be able to meet some NBA players and attend the NBA All-Star Game. I am also excited to learn from the coaches to help improve my game and get me to the next level.
“My goal in Basketball is to eventually make it to the NBA. To complete this goal I hope to go to America next year on a scholarship and play college basketball,” says Mennenga.
Leger-Walker says she’s looking forward to making new connections and friends from all over the world whilst learning more about the game. The youngest-ever Tall Ferns says she’s enjoyed a summer holiday from St. Peters Cambridge School and has taken a small break from the court. As part of that holiday, she and her family went to Colorado to visit older sister Krystal (also a Tall Fern).
“In terms of training I haven’t been playing much basketball, just doing my own trainings to stay in shape and fit. Occasionally I will get into a gym and get shots up and get in a good workout. When I was in the US, I would train with my older sister as they (the University of Northern Colorado) are in season at the moment. However, these next few weeks I will be getting back into basketball a bit more so I can start training for the camp and also 3x3 for school that is coming up soon,” says Leger-Walker.
2019 NBA All-Stars Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia) and Nikola Vučević (Orlando Magic; Montenegro), 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick and former BWB camper Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns; Bahamas; BWB Global 2016), and 2017-18 All Rookie Second Team member Bogdan Bogdanović (Sacramento Kings; Serbia) will coach the top high school age campers from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. They will be joined by a number of former NBA veterans and US College coaches.
All participants will take part in basketball positional development, strength and conditioning, life skills sessions, and games and competitions during the day, followed by visits to NBA All Star events in the evening. NBA and FIBA players and coaches will coach the participants of the camp. NIKE is the presenting partner for the camp, and each camper will be provided with NIKE basketball shoes, uniforms, and other apparel. Participants’ flights, ground transportation, food, lodging and insurance during the camp will also be provided.
Basketball is now the second most-participated secondary-school sport after a massive 44.9% increase in players this decade.
Over a quarter more secondary school students are playing basketball than they were just five years ago, while volleyball has also seen a five percent increase in playing numbers in the same time period to be the fifth most popular sport.
Netball is New Zealand’s most popular sport by playing numbers despite a 7 percent shift away from playing numbers in the past five years.
More teenagers are playing netball and basketball than rugby, which has seen a 12 percent decline in playing numbers in this time.
The School Sport New Zealand Census shows a total of 26,481 secondary school students played for a basketball team at school in 2018.
The annual School Sport New Zealand Census just released, which details annual secondary-school participation rates since 2000.
The full Census can be found on the New Zealand Secondary School website here http://www.nzsssc.org.nz/newsarticle/72852?newsfeedId=51035
Hockey (+4 percent) and badminton (+9 percent) were also growth sports between 2014-18.
See below for the top 10 table of sports by participation in New Zealand.
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Iain Potter says two of the big reasons for this growth include an increasingly diverse national-population and the creation of opportunities to play, but he says the growth is less than what it could be.
“This growth is not a surprise for us. We’ve seen the growth of this participation-trend since the Census began.
“There’s been some great work by the basketball community to foster the opportunities for kids to play, but we could have achieved so much more if the support from central government, the Ministry of Education, local councils and funders corresponded with this vast growth. Basketball-participation has almost doubled in just ten years, whereas basketball’s funding certainly hasn’t,” said Potter.
Potter says the rise in participation correlates with the access to facilities, coaching, and the introduction of basketball opportunities at schools and communities, but he says that good work is not enough to give Kiwi kids the opportunities they are crying out for.
“To play, kids need opportunities with a ball, coach and a court. This relentless growth has seen basketball facilities become prime real-estate, with court bookings bursting. And the majority of our Associations are at their wits-end trying to get enough support to provide coaches, referees, and venues for their players and leagues.”
Potter said New Zealand is a different country than it was in the year 2010 and that the change in demographics also impacts basketball participation.
“Another big reason is the increase in this country’s ethnic diversity. Basketball is a global game that is the preferred sport for many people across many different ethnicities. As the populations of those ethnicities grow in New Zealand, so does basketball participation. We are fortunate to see young players of all backgrounds stepping onto our courts. Basketball in New Zealand caters for kiwis of all races, creeds and both genders,” says Potter.
The Census includes all students that had a meaningful engagement in each sport in the school setting. For example: represented the school in that sport OR took part in a sport provided in-school over a period of six weeks or more OR played for a club arranged by the school as the school had no teams in that sport OR took part in sport that was provided through the KIWISPORT initiative. The Census does NOT include students that took part in 'one off' in-school events such as school athletics / swimming sports or short term interform/house events.
The New Zealand U15 boys and girls teams have officially qualified for the U16 FIBA Asian Championship next year, following their victories on Day Four at the Oceania Championship in Papua New Guinea.
The boys took down Samoa in their matchup, winning 105-63. Yet again, it was another total team effort to get the job done. Tafara Gapare totaled a team-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 from three. Joshua Book scored 14 points with three 3-pointers, while Levick Kerr and Ethan Skelton each scored 11. New Zealand dominated the battle on the glass, outrebounding Samoa 64-38.
They’re the only unbeaten team at the Oceania Championship and will look to secure a gold medal with a win over Australia later today. The two teams met just days ago in the group stage, and it was New Zealand coming away with a 59-57 win.
The girls played tremendous defence in their 86-27 win over Fiji. Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu continued her stellar play with 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field. Alana Paewai chipped in 11 points with six steals, while Missy Nuku was productive with eight points, eight rebounds and six steals. New Zealand shot 45.2 per cent from the field and held Fiji to just 23.5 per cent (12-of-51). They also forced Fiji to commit a whopping 48 turnovers.
Like the boys, they’ll have a date with Australia in the gold medal game. Australia came away with the 94-34 win in the first meeting, but New Zealand will not shy away from the challenge.
Select games are being live streamed on the FIBA website. You can find more info here: http://www.fiba.basketball/oceania/u15/2018.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt has become the latest young Kiwi to secure an NCAA Division I University basketball scholarship.
In the same week he was named in the Tall Blacks squad for the next FIBA World Cup Qualifying window, the Rosmini College guard has committed to the University of South Dakota (USD) under the tutorage of Head Coach Todd Lee. The Coyotes play in the Summit League Conference and also have Brad Davidson on their coaching staff.
Davidson will be well known to basketball fans that follow the Australian National Basketball League. The shooting guard played 13 years in the NBL League and ranks as one of the all-time best shooters with a 40.1 percent career mark from long range. He made more than 600 3-point baskets during his career.
Davidson’s presence on the coaching staff was just one of the reasons Kruz has committed to USD.
“Coach Davidson was a terrific shooter and I’m sure his knowledge will help me refine my shooting game. On my visit to USD I was really impressed with the coaching set-up, the facilities and the atmosphere around the team and the campus.
“I think it will be an ideal environment for me to pursue my academic studies as well as develop as a player.
“I’m looking forward to joining my Coyote teammates in 2019 and wish them well for the current season,” said Kruz.
He has achieved a great deal in his burgeoning basketball career but he says none of it would have been possible without the support of his parents Angela and Matt, as well as the many coaches that have helped him on his journey to date.
“I have been fortunate to have been able to learn from so many good coaches during the last few years whether at school, for North Harbour or undertaking individual training. Many people have helped me to this point, but in particular I want to thank Dave Mackay, Tony Pompallier, Mike Fitchett, Alex Stojkovic and Matt Lacey for the countless hours they have spent helping me achieve my goals,” said Kruz.
Long time coach, mentor and friend Dave Mackay has witnessed first-hand the growth of Kruz as a player and person.
“It is extremely pleasing to see Kruz take this next step in his basketball journey. Having coached and mentored Kruz since he was 11, he has always strived to play college basketball and this year in particular he has really excelled his game. South Dakota is a great fit for him, somewhere I believe he will get to play and make an instant impact. Having Brad Davidson as the Assistant Coach is a real bonus and someone I believe will assist him in furthering his game, in particular his shooting ability,” said Mackay.
The announcement caps an outstanding year in which the 17-year old (he turns 18 later this month) has earned a Tall Blacks call-up, a silver medal at the FIBA Asia Cup, a SKYCITY Breakers Development Players spot and an invitation to the Nike Asia Camp in China where he received the Best Defensive Player award.
In addition he capped off a stellar high school career by captaining Rosmini College, as they became back-to-back Schick Secondary Schools National Champions.
Kruz was called into the Tall Blacks training squad ahead of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers against Hong Kong and China in June. He has again received the nod from coach Paul Henare ahead of the upcoming Qualifiers against Jordan in Christchurch on 29 November and Syria in Wellington on 2 December.
Kruz was a key player for New Zealand at the U18 Asia Cup in August in Thailand where the Kiwis finished second behind Australia to earn them a trip to the FIBA U19 World Cup next year. He averaged 13.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game during the tournament.
The 190cm combo-guard capped off his five-year premier team career at Rosmini by leading his team in its defence of the National Championship title last month. Selected to the National Championship Tournament Team for a third successive year, Kruz was within a whisker of a triple-double in the Final against St Pat’s producing 29 points, 11 rebounds and 9 steals in a commanding performance.
A North Harbour player throughout his representative career he was also named to the Tournament Team at the U19 National Championships back in June.
Despite missing a significant number of days at school this year due to his basketball commitments the year 13 student has passed NCEA Level 3 and also received the top Maori Student Award at Rosmini College.
Kruz is from an accomplished basketball family with mum Angela a well-respected schools and representative coach, and sister Georgia on a basketball scholarship at Tiffin University in Ohio.
Basketball produced two dominant winners of the National Secondary School Championships with Rosmini College defending their 2017 boys crown and St Peter’s Cambridge cleaning up the girls competition for the third time in four years.
There was a Tall Fern and Tall Black among our high school elitte and huge interest in a sport that’s rapidly becoming the most popular code for New Zealand’s youth.
Our contenders are below for our fourth annual Champion of Champions series – vote in the poll - scroll down below.
Mitchell Dance (Rosmini College) - The prolific scoring New Zealand Under-17 forward was named National Secondary Schools MVP for a second year in a row after guiding Rosmini to repeat National titles. Dance scored 20 points in the final against St Pats Town. At the FIBA Under-17 World championships in Argentina, Dance helped New Zealand to an inaugural victory at the event (62-57 over China) and was the Kiwis leading scorer averaging 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge) - At 16 years of age, Ledger Walker became the youngest ever selection for the Tall Ferns and wasn’t merely in the squad to make up the numbers. At the Commonwealth Games in April, Ledger-Walker top scored with 18 points as New Zealand beat Canada 74-58 to win the bronze medal game. Ledger-Walker’s other international assignment was at the FIBA Under-17 World Championships where Leger-Walker headed the Kiwi stats averaging 15.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. At the domestic level in New Zealand Leger-Walker remained a bully of all opponents winning a second consecutive National Secondary Schools MVP award and top scoring with 35 points in the 92-51 win over Hutt Valley High School in the final.
Leah Mafua (Hutt Valley High School) - For the first time in five years Hutt Valley High School won the Wellington title and made it all the way through to the Zone 3 and National finals, finishing runners up in each game. Mafua had an outstanding season top scoring in the Wellington final and making the tournament team at Nationals, scoring 22 points in the final and 40 points in a single game against Tauranga Girls’ College. Mafua, a New Zealand Under-17 representative, is unsurprisingly bound for the US collegiate system on scholarship next year.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Rosmini College) - In June the impressive guard joined the likes of Rob Loe, Tai Webster, Jack Salt, Tai Wynyard, Isaac Fotu and Izayah Mauriohooho Le'Afa as a schoolboy to be selected for the Tall Blacks. Additionally Perrott-Hunt is a North Harbour and New Zealand Under-19 representative and was a key leader for Rosmini in winning the Auckland, Zone I and National titles. In the National final Perrott-Hunt top scored with 29 points.
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Mount Albert Grammar School) - MAGS have only lost twice in the Auckland Premiership in the past two seasons. Cruelly one of those defeats was in the 2018 final to Mount Albert Grammar School, 59-52. Pupuke-Robati, niece of NBA star Steven Adams, was the telling factor scoring a team high 21 points. Pupuke-Robati, a nomination for College Sport Auckland basketballer of the year, was a member of the New Zealand Under-17 representative team who competed in the FIBA World Championships for the first time. Pupuke-Robati enjoyed a productive tournament averaging 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones (St Pat's Town) - Transferring from Rongotai College, Tait-Jones drove Town to greater heights than anybody expected in 2018. Town became the first Wellington boys team in a decade to make the final of National’s with Tait-Jones the main factor exploding for 35 points in the quarter final against Hamilton Boys High School before scoring 23 points and collecting 12 rebounds in the semi-final against St John's College, Hamilton. Tait-Jones was Town’s leading scorer in the finals of the Wellington competition, piling 40 points on Scots College in the semi-final and amassing 24 against Rongotai in the final. Tait-Jones attended the inaugural Steven Adams basketball camp for the leading 20 age group players in New Zealand.
Who would be your Basketball Player of the Year? Vote in the poll below
2017: Grace Hunter (St Mary’s College)
2016: Callum McRae (Palmerston North BHS)
2015: Logan Elers (Rotorua BHS)/Krystal Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge)
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