(This story was updated on 9 November 2021)
To date, 51 Kiwi men and 64 Kiwi women are set to take the court in collegiate basketball in the United States and Canada this coming season.
Despite the ongoing problems that the COVID-19 is causing, the number of Kiwi athletes on basketball scholarships in North America has returned to pre-pandemic numbers.
Understandably, with the uncertainty that existed, numbers leaving New Zealand shores last year dipped below 100 for the first time in five years. Even so there were still 98 (57 women, 41 men) student-athletes in the USA, not far below the 114 on basketball scholarships in the 2019-20 collegiate year.
Numbers for the upcoming 2021-22 season are looking very healthy with 116 athletes named by their respective colleges and universities:
- 44 NCAA Division I (Men 16/Women 28)
- 18 NCAA Division II (Men 12/Women 6)
- 6 NCAA Division III (Men 4/Women 2)
- 9 NAIA Division I (Men 8/Women 1)
- 36 Junior College (Men 10/Women 26)
- 3 Canadian Division I (Men 2/Women 1)
Amongst the male athletes Dan Fotu, Taine Murray and Kruz Perrott-Hunt have already played for the Tall Blacks. In addition many other players have risen through the BBNZ selection pathway to play for New Zealand age-group teams.
To partly compensate for the ravages Covid caused during 2020-21, players have been granted an additional year of scholarship eligibility.
Sam Waardenburg will be amongst those enjoying an extra playing year and the opportunity to undertake additional studies. Waardenburg plays in the super competitive ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference), which is close to the best men’s conference in the States.
Look out for the dual between Waardenburg’s University of Miami and the University of Virginia where Taine Murray is a freshman – the two meet on Saturday 5 February 2022 in conference play.
Waardenburg was a member of the Junior Tall Blacks team at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt. A number of players from that team are still playing college basketball or have moved into the professional ranks. Quinn Clinton is at St Mary’s College, California, Callum McRae, Angus McWilliam and Flynn Cameron are at the University of California Riverside while Tobias Cameron is at Abilene Christian University. Taane Samuel, after winning an NBL Championship with the Wellington Saints is currently with the Brisbane Bullets while Toby Gillooly (Sutherland Sharks), Josh Aitcheson (Otago Nuggets) and Tai Wynyard (Taranaki Airs) also suited up in NBL ’21.
A number of the players look set to create New Zealand all-time NCAA Division I records in the coming weeks:
Fotu, a teammate of Clinton, has played 92 games for St Mary’s College California. Waardenburg has played 83 for Miami and, whilst both should sail past the 100 appearances mark at some stage during this season, they won’t pass Tall Black Rob Loe’s (University of St Louis) all-time Kiwi men’s record of 133 appearances.
It’s not all about NCAA Division I student-athletes though. Kiwis are also making their mark at Division II, Division III, NAIA, NJCAA (Junior College) and Canadian universities and colleges.
The following Division II players will also resume their careers next month.
In 2020-21 former Rosmini College centre William Heather, in his sophomore season at Dallas Baptist University, was the sole Kiwi playing at the Division II National Tournament last season. Heather averaged 9.8 points per game for the Patriots that season.
Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones enjoyed a standout freshman season at Hawaii at Hilo University. The Wellingtonian was named PacWest Conference Newcomer of the Year after leading Hilo’s scoring by averaging 16.5 points per game.
In the NAIA, forward Maxim Stephens led the Rocky Mountain University scoring (14.4ppg) and rebounding (7.7rpg) last season. This season he will be joined at Rocky by fellow Waikato native Kael Robinson who won a Sal’s NBL title with Wellington Saints earlier this year.
A number of other players that featured on Sal’s NBL rosters in 2021 will be making their college debuts in the coming weeks.
Otago Gold Nuggets forward Akiva McBirney-Griffin is at USC Irvine, the Huskies duo of
Sean Murphy and Kiani Saxon are at University of Nebraska Kearney and Louisiana State Eunice respectively while, in addition to Robinson, the Saints will be following the fortunes of Ezra Vaigafa (Neosho County College), Dallas Clayton (Missouri State West Plains), Matariki Kapea (Bakersfield College) and Piripi Korent (Milligan University).
The collegiate season gets underway this week ahead of almost six months of continuous action before conference tournaments and national championships play out in March and April.
Full list of male athletes (known at time of article being published).
Flynn Cameron (Junior at University of California, Riverside)
Played 2 years at DePaul University before transferring to UC Riverside at the start of the 2020-21 season – started 21 of 22 games and averaged 8.9ppg.
Flynn was a member of the Junior Tall Blacks team at both the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt and the 2019 U19 World Cup in Greece.
Played 28 games for the Blue Demons in his freshman year.
Younger brother of Tobias Cameron.
UCR Career GP 22 GS 21 PPG 8.9
Career GP 61 GS 21 PPG 4.4
Tobias Cameron (Senior at Abilene Christian University)
Tobias has played 77 games in three seasons for ACU. A member of the team that won the Southland Conference Championship Tournament in 2020-21.
The older of the Cameron brothers, father Cameron is Kiwi basketball legend Pero Cameron.
Career: GP 77 GS 0 PPG 2.0
Quinn Clinton (Junior at St Mary’s College, California)
The former Christchurch Boys High and New Zealand age-group standout has played 44 games for the Gaels in two seasons. Represented New Zealand at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt, averaging 12.1 points and 3 assists per game.
Quinn was named MVP after leading Canterbury to the title at the 2017 U19 National Championships.
Career GP 44 GS 0 PPG 2.4
Dan Fotu (Senior at St Mary’s College, California)
Dan hasn’t missed a game in his three seasons with the Gaels playing in all 92 games – 47 as a starter.
Made his Tall Blacks debut in 2018. Brother Isaac is also a Tall Black and sister Ella a Tall Fern.
Career GP 92 GS 47 PPG 5.6
Akiva McBirney-Griffin (Freshman at University of California Irvine)
The former Waikato and St John’s College, Hamilton forward played the 2020 and 2021 seasons with the Otago Nuggets, winning an NBL championship in 2021.
Played for New Zealand ay the 2018 FIBA U15 Oceania Championships in Papua New Guinea.
Callum McRae (Junior at University of California, Riverside)
The former Palmerston North Boys High centre led the Highlanders in points (307) and rebounds (197) in his sophomore year.
Callum sat out the 2020-21 season due to injury.
Career GP 64 GS 40 PPG 8.6 RPG 5.5
Angus McWilliam (Junior at University of California, Riverside)
The former Middleton Grange High School and Junior Tall Black forward began his collegiate career at Texas Christian University. Angus has played two seasons at UCR since transferring after his freshman year.
Sam Mennenga (Sophomore at Davidson College)
Enjoyed a successful freshman season at Davidson, starting 20 of 21 games and second on the team in rebounding.
A member of the Junior Tall Blacks team at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece where he averaged 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Career GP 21 GS 20 PPG 6.0 RPG 5.0
James Moors (Sophomore at Colorado State University)
Another former Westlake Boys High and North Harbour representative he played all 28 games for CSU earning a start on 21 occasions.
Was a member of the Junior Tall Blacks team at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece and averaged 10.9 points per game. James also played in Buenos Aires at the Youth Olympic Games.
Sister Jess is also at Colorado State.
Career GP 28 GS 21 PPG 5.9 RPG 3.5
Taine Murray (Freshman at University of Virginia)
Averaged 17.5ppg for Auckland Huskies in 2020 NBL season.
Made his Tall Blacks debut against Canada in Sydney in 2019.
Finished his high school career with two Secondary School National championship titles with Rosmini College and an U19 National title playing for North Harbour.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Junior at University of South Dakota)
One of three players to start every game in 2020-21 for USD, averaged 7 points and 2.2 assists per game.
The former Rosmini College and North Harbour guard played for Nelson Giants in the NBL in 2019. Kruz was a member of the Junior Tall Blacks team at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece.
Made his Tall Blacks debut against Jordan in the Asia World Cup Qualifier in 2018.
Career GP 47 GS 32 PPG 4.5
Sam Waardenburg (Senior at University of Miami)
The rangy forward from Rangitoto College and North Harbour missed all of last season due to a foot injury. Sam has played 83 games for the Hurricanes in the tough ACC Conference.
Represented New Zealand at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt, averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Career GP 83 GS 35 PPG 5.0 RPG 4.1
Tom Webley (Sophomore at University of Hartford)
Tom attended Cashmere High School prior to college and also played for the Canterbury Rams in 2020.
The 6’10” forward averaged 14 minutes per game for Hartford in his freshman year.
Career GP 21 GS 9 PPG 3.0 RPG 2.6
Mason Whittaker (Freshman at American University)
Attended Christ’s College, Christchurch – played the 2020 and 2021 NBL season’s with the Canterbury Rams. Mason was a member of the 2021 Canterbury U19 National Championship winning team.
Sister Charlotte is on a basketball scholarship at the University of Colorado.
Paora Winitana (Freshman at BYU)
The Hawkes Bay native and son of former Tall Black Paora Winitana attended American Heritage School in Utah for his final two years of high school. Attended St John’s College, Hastings in New Zealand.
Harrison Young (Junior at Texas Christian University)
The former Kings College, Auckland guard played two years at Impact Academy in Florida before getting his chance at TCU as a walk on in 2019-20.
Young has made just the one appearance for the Horned Frogs.
NCAA Division II
Matt Brien (Senior at University of Nebraska at Kearney)
The only player to appear in all 22 games last season – second on UNK’s made 3’s.
Played at OnPoint Academy in Oklahoma in 2018-19.
Prior to heading to the States Brien attended St Kevin’s Oamaru before transferring to St Pat’s Wellington.
GP 22 GS 11 PPG 7.1 RPG 3.7
Conor Flanagan (Junior at University of West Florida)
The former Auckland Grammar School forward played all 19 games for the Argonauts last season averaging 9.9ppg. Scored a career high 28 points against Montevallo in December 2020.
GP 45 GS 33 PPG 7.8 RPG 4.0
Sam Gold (Freshman at Holy Names University)
Gold links up with the Hawks after spending the 2021 Sal’s NBL season with the Wellington Saints following his senior year at Tawa College in 2020.
William Heather (Junior at Dallas Baptist University)
Will enjoyed a strong sophomore season in 2020-21 leading the Lone Star Conference in blocks. He started all 22 games for the Patriots last season averaging 10.1ppg.
Career GP 45 GS 22 PPG 7.4
Josh Lowe (Senior at Lee University)
From Ashburton Lowe has played 52 games for the Flames. Started all 29 games in 2019-20 but missed the entire 2020-21 season after undergoing surgery.
GP 52 GS 29 PPG 5.1 RPG 3.4
Sean Murphy (Freshman at University of Nebraska Kearney)
Sean is about to embark on his first season at UNK having played for the Auckland Huskies in the 2021 Sal’s NBL season. Will linkup with fellow kiwi Matt Brien at Kearney.
Oscar Oswald (Junior at St Edwards University)
The former Junior Tall Black out of Palmerston North Boys High School has had his career at St Edwards severely hampered by injury. Oswald played just 6 games in the 2019-20 season and was side-lined all of last season.
GP 6 GS 0
Tom Power (Junior at University of Hawaii at Hilo)
Formerly of Waikato and Hamilton Boys High the 6’8” forward has played 57 games for the Vulcans almost exclusively off the bench.
GP 57 GS 8 PPG 1.0
Mac Stodart (Sophomore at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs)
Via James Hargest College, Invercargill and St Andrew’s, Christchurch Stodart has transferred to Colorado Springs after playing his freshman season at Concordia University where he made 13 appearances.
Played 13 games for Canterbury Rams in the 2020 Sal’s NBL.
GP 13 GS 8 PPG 11.0
Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones (Sophomore at University of Hawaii at Hilo)
Tait-Jones enjoyed a standout freshman season in a severely truncated 2021 campaign when Hilo played just 7 games. The Wellingtonian was named PacWest Conference Newcomer of the Year after leading Hilo’s scoring (16.5 points per game) and shots blocked (14).
GP 7 GS 7 PPG 16.5 RPG 8.5
Thomas Whyte (Junior at Assumption University)
The former Auckland Grammar guard will resume his Greyhounds career after playing 10 games as a freshman in 2019-20.
Career GP 10
Marvin Williams-Dunn (Sophomore at Ouachita Baptist University)
Marvin played all 17 games for OBU Tigers last season starting on 11 occasions. Shot a very hand 43% (17/40) from beyond the arc.
Career GP 17 GS 11 PPG 3.6
NCAA Division III
Alex Blackmore (Freshman at Castleton University)
The former St Pat’s Silverstream wing spent some time at DME Sports Academy, Florida before Castleton. The Spartans play in the Little East Conference.
Lachie MacFarlane (Freshman at Orbelin College, Ohio)
Former Rangiora High School head boy Lachie McFarlane joins the Orbelin Yeoman, semi-finalists in the North Coast Athletic Conference last time out.
Ben Reeves (Sophomore at St Joseph’s College, Brooklyn)
Former Otago Boys High School guard Ben Reeves returns to New York for his sophomore season after all Division III programmes were cancelled in 2020-21 due to covid.
Career GP 9
Noah Watson (Senior at Muhlenberg College)
Noah Watson returns to Muhlenberg having played all 27 games for the Berg last time out in 2019-20. The Cantabrian spent last three years of high school at Archbishop Walsh HS, New York.
GP 52 GS 10 PPG 5.2
NAIA Division I
Kone Nabil (Freshman at Trinity International University, Chicago)
The Mali born, Rotorua Boys High educated, forward suits up for the Trojans in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Piripi Korent (Freshman at Milligan University)
The former St Pat’s College Silverstream guard scored 5 points on debut in the opening game of the 2021-22 season. Will play alongside fellow Wellingtonian Finn McClure at Milligan.
Corey Le’aupepe (Senior at Menlo College)
The former St Pat’s Town forward started in 27 games in 2019-20 averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds per game – Menlo didn’t compete last season due to Covid restrictions.
Career GP 53 GS 26 PPG 7.0 RPG 4.1
Finn McClure (Sophomore at Milligan University)
9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists on the 2021-22 season opener for the Wellington guard who made 13 starts in 17 appearances as a freshman.
Career GP 17 GS 13 PPG 9.4 APG 4.5
Reihana Maxwell-Topia (Sophomore at St Francis University, Illinois)
Reihana established himself as a regular last season playing 22 of 24 games for the Fighting Saints. Played for Harbour U23’s in 2021 whilst back in NZ.
Career GP 22 GS 4 PPG 2.9
Kael Robinson (Junior) at Rocky Mountain College, Montana)
Robinson will play alongside fellow Waikato native Maxim Stephens at Rocky Mountain. The former St John’s College wing played 14 games for the Wellington Saints in 2021.
Jackson Smyth (Freshman at Southern Oregon University)
Jackson, son of former Tall Black Haydn Smyth grew up in Sydney playing for the Manly Warringah club. Played 3 games for the Auckland Huskies in 2021. Named to the Junior Tall Blacks in 2020.
Maxim Stephens (Sophomore at Rocky Mountain College, Montana)
The former Waikato and Hamilton Boys High forward enjoyed a very good sophomore year at Rocky Mountain in 2020-21 averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds per game. The son of former Tall Black Neil Stephens.
Career GP 33 PPG 11.8
Hayden Collier (Senior at University of Regina)
The Canadian university season is already underway and the Cantabrian forward tallied 3 points and 11 rebounds in the season opener for the Cougars.
Career GP 14
Isaac Miller-Jose (Senior at Manitoba University)
Miller-Jose played for the Auckland Huskies in NBL ’20 before going on to win an NBL championship with the Wellington Saints in 2021.
Career GP 35 GS 2 PPG 5.4 RPG 3.1
Mandela Baledrokadroka (Junior at Tallahassee Community College)
The former Mt Albert Grammar and Waitakere guard played his freshman year at Davis & Elkins College where he made 20 starts in 27 games.
GP 43 GS 21
Daniel Christensen (Sophomore at Barstow College)
The former Taradale High School and Hawkes Bay wing returns to the Barstow Vikings line-up for the 2021-22 season after playing 13 games in 2018-19.
Dallas Clayton (Freshman at Missouri State University West Plains)
From Auckland the former Scots College forward played for Wellington in the 2021 U19 National Final. Approaching 7 foot he is definitely one to watch. Will play alongside Nico Hill at West Plains.
Oliver Hayward (Freshman at Midland College)
The former Northcote College standout had his journey to Texas to link up with the Chaparral’s delayed 12 months due to covid restrictions.
Nico Hill (Sophomore at Missouri State University West Plains)
The 6’6” wing from Opunake, Taranaki averaged 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Grizzlies last season.
Career GP 46 26 PPG 5.8
Matariki Kapea (Freshman at Bakersfield College)
The former Hutt Valley High School guard trained with the Wellington Saints in 2021 before heading to California.
Kiani Saxon (Freshman at Louisiana State University, Eunice)
Played for the Auckland Huskies in 2021 and also represented Harbour at U23 Nationals. The former Liston College forward will be playing his first season for the Bengals.
Leo Wenham (Freshman at Southeast Community College)
Like Kiani, Leo played for Harbour U19’s in 2021 after graduating from Rosmini College the previous year. The 6’7” forward is in his debut season with the Storm.
Nathan Wilson (Freshman at South Georgia Technical College)
The former Auckland and Mt Albert Grammar forward had an eye catching season in the NBL in 2020. Nate averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 14 games for the Auckland Huskies.
Ezra Vaigafa (Freshman at Neosho County Community College)
Formerly from Rongotai College Ezra Vaigafa concluded his high school career at Box Hill College in Melbourne.
Played 17 games for the Wellington Saints in the 2021 Sal’s NBL season.
*Note this list is of players known at the time of writing. It’s possible there may be some players absent from this list with players often moving, or travelling to the US without publicising their plans, or may yet to be announced by teams.