BBNZ Awards Honour New Zealand’s Basketball Heroes

The annual Basketball New Zealand Awards, this year held at the Alan Gibbs Centre at Wellington College, saw awards handed out to 19 worthy recipients – in recognition of their excellence and achievement in basketball for the 2023 calendar year.

Highlights from the night included Shea Ili being named both MVP for the year, as well as Male Player of the Year, following his Tall Blacks World Cup campaign and strong run with Melbourne United in the Australian NBL.

Tera Reed was named Female Player of the Year, in recognition of both her stellar performance for the Tall Ferns at the FIBA Asia Cup and her play with Northern Kahu in GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa.

Lauren Whittaker and Julius Halaifonua took out the awards for Female and Male Junior Player of the Year respectively, while Jody Cameron claimed the Female Coach of the Year award and Phill Jones captured Male Coach of the Year. Jody Cameron also picked up the Zena Gay Award – which recognises a notable contribution to women’s basketball in New Zealand – while Brian Monds was a deserved recipient of the Sir Lance Cross Award.

Basketball New Zealand also inducted a new member into its prestigious Hall of Fame in Deslee Wrathall, who has enjoyed a long and successful career as a player, coach and educator in Aotearoa.

The night culminated with BBNZ bestowing its highest honour – the Basketball New Zealand Legend – to ex-Tall Black Sean Marks, who has achieved incredible success in the NBA as a player, coach and general manager.



Sean Marks – Former Tall Black, NBA player and current GM of the Brooklyn Nets, Sean is a deserving recipient of BBNZ Legend status.

Sean’s early basketball playing days were on Auckland’s North Shore where he attended Rangitoto College. Following high school he headed to the States on a four-year scholarship at the University of California Berkeley, and in 1998 become the first ever Kiwi to be drafted into the NBA. He went on to have a successful NBA playing career for the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets and the Portland Trailblazers over 13 years – winning a championship ring with the Spurs in 2005.

After retiring in 2011, Sean took up a position as the Spurs Director of Basketball, becoming Assistant Coach a year later and Spurs Assistant General Manager in 2015. Sean is currently the General Manager for the Brooklyn Nets, a position he has held since 2016.

He played 33 games for the Tall Blacks, attending both the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2004 Athens Olympics, and was part of the Tall Blacks team that finished fourth at the 2002 FIBA World Championships. That team was named New Zealand’s team of the year and overall winners of the Halberg Awards in 2002, and last year was inducted into the New Zealand Basketball Hall of Fame.



Deslee Wrathall – As a player Deslee made 13 appearances for the Tall Ferns, including at the 1983 Commonwealth Champs where New Zealand claimed bronze. Deslee turned to coaching following her playing career, serving the game in this capacity for almost 40 years; winning a trio of Premier Women’s and second division titles at the domestic level. She has also coached teams to over 14 BBNZ National Championships – alongside Poitūkohu Māori National Championships – and has coached Porirua Basketball teams from 1985 to present day.

In 2009, Deslee was the Junior Tall Blacks Campaign Manager at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Auckland. The following year she became the first female head coach of the Junior Tall Blacks, claiming silver at the 2012 FIBA U19 Oceania Championships.

As an educator Deslee has presented for FIBA Oceania and FIBA internationally, been a coach developer for BBNZ and continues to work at the grassroots level for Porirua Basketball and Poitūkohu Māori Aotearoa. Deslee is currently working with BBNZ on the Girls Got Game Advisory Board, and as an independent facilitator in Basketball for High Performance Sport NZ.

In 2003 she was named New Zealand Women’s Coach of the Year, and in 2014 was the first New Zealand female coach in to be awarded an International Olympic IOC and FIBA Coaching Scholarship. 



Lauren Whittaker – Lauren enjoyed a stunning 2023 with Mainland Pouākai, Canterbury Basketball and St Andrew’s College. One of the youngest members of the Pouākai squad, she averaged 5.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in her rookie Tauihi season.

She was named MVP at the U19 National Championships after leading Canterbury to the title – 17 points and 16 rebounds in the 74-56 Grand Final win against Waikato. And for St Andrew’s College she led the school as they claimed the Whelan Trophy – the Canterbury Schools Basketball Premier Girls Championship. St Andrew’s were also the top qualifiers from the region for the 2023 Secondary Schools National Championships, with Lauren named to the Tournament Team after the team finished runners-up.

Another major achievement for Lauren was being selected as the sole New Zealand representative at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in Las Vegas in July. It was the first women’s-only camp ever held, with Lauren one of just 38 top female school-age prospects from 24 different countries.



Julius Halaifonua – In 2023 Julius became just the second Kiwi to be offered a scholarship at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra. Moving to Canberra as a Year 12 student meant he had to uproot his ties with Harbour Basketball and Rosmini College in order to live, study and train alongside some of the most talented teenage basketballers from around the world.

Julius enjoyed an extremely busy 2023, beginning with the U16 NBA Academy Tour in France, followed by the Australian U20 State Championships. In April he attended the Junior Tall Blacks Selection Camp, before heading to Abu Dhabi for NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia Camp; then jetting to the NBA Academy Games in Atlanta. In October Julius was part of the U19 Men’s National team that finished second at FIBA U19 Oceania Championships in Papua New Guinea – earning All-star five honours – with December seeing Julius in the United States with the NBA Academy for the G League Showcase Tournament.



Shea Ili – Shea Ili again enjoyed a standout year for both the Tall Blacks and Melbourne United in 2023. He was outstanding at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, playing all five games while averaging 14.8ppg, 2.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game – the latter ranked third at the World Cup ahead of established NBA guards like Josh Giddey, Dennis Schroeder and Tyrese Haliburton.

Shea was dynamic for Melbourne in the 23-24 season, leading his side all the way to the NBL Grand Finals before losing the series 3-2. His elite level defensive capabilities were recognised when he was named the Australian NBL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Tall Blacks Head Coach Pero Cameron had this to say about Shea:

“Shea has been a great player for the Tall Blacks for a number of years. The pace and tenacity he plays with, at both ends of the court, is inspiring for his teammates. He deserves all the accolades that there are, especially with his defensive super powers and his leadership qualities.”

Also named The Male Player of the Year and overall MVP in 2017, Shea is again a deserved recipient of both awards in 2023.



Tera Reed – Tera made her mark both domestically and on the international stage in 2023. She was a key player for the Northern Kāhu as they clinched last season’s Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa title, averaging 18ppg, 8 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

She followed this with her rookie season in the Australian WNBL with the Melbourne Boomers, reaching the semi-finals. Tera averaged 8ppg and 4 rebounds per game with the Boomers, leading the team with her 41.4% 3-point shooting –  and was nominated for the WNBL 6th Woman of the Year award.

Tera was also a standout for the national senior team at the FIBA Asia Cup in Sydney last June, where the Tall Ferns finished fourth – their best ever finish at the Asia champs. Tera averaged 9ppg and 6 rebounds over the tournament, scoring 23 points in a win over the Philippines.



Jody Cameron – In 2023, Jody and the Northern Kāhu avenged their 2022 Finals loss with a 98-72 Grand Final win against the Tokomanawa Queens in GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa. Jody’s overall record of 22-6 across her first two seasons in Tauihi, gives her an impressive 79% win success rate in this competition.

In addition to her club commitments, Jody is Assistant Coach to the Tall Ferns – a position she has held since 2018. The Tall Ferns undertook a tour of Europe in June, with Jody assuming the Head Coach role due to the unavailability of Guy Molloy. The Tall Ferns then went on to enjoy their best-ever Asia Cup campaign, finishing fourth overall and capturing a place in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.



Phill Jones – Phill created a pair of unique records in 2023, as he coaxed some outstanding performances from the two Nelson-based teams that he coached. The Nelson U17 representative team beat rivals Canterbury 78-71 in the Grand Final of the U17 National Championships – the first national title won by a Nelson rep team since 2001.

Later in the year, Phill’s Waimea College senior team won both the local schools competition and the Nelson clubs Premier competition. Still unbeaten, they swept the Zone 4 Qualifying Tournament to book their spot at the New Zealand Secondary Schools National Championship; the team going all the way to the Grand Final before falling 72-77 to Wellington College.

Under Phill’s leadership, Waimea lost just one game all season and the Nelson U17’s squad went undefeated – the two teams combining for 5 titles and 1 runners-up spot in 2023.



Patricia Muir – After almost 70 years playing, refereeing, managing, administering and advocating for the game of basketball, Patricia Muir earns the Lifetime Achievement Award. Trish fell in love with basketball in 1957, shortly after finishing high school. She captained the Atomic Club basketball side from 1959-2006 – 47 years total – across numerous tournaments and competitions around the North Island. She was a rep player and a member of the 1961 Tauranga team that won both the North Island and National Championships, later managing the team after stepping down from playing at that level.

Tauranga Basketball awarded Trish a Life Membership in 1988, and that same year she was instrumental in setting up the Atomic Masters Tournament which ran annually until 2018. Trish and that team attended the first Masters Games in Wanganui and went on to play at numerous tournaments in New Zealand and Australia over the years.

Now in her 80’s, Trish is still involved with the game today as a stalwart of the Walking Basketball programme in Tauranga, which runs twice weekly.



Brian Monds – This award is presented to an individual who have given exceptional services to basketball. Prior to his passing in 2011, Brian’s service to basketball spanned an impressive five decades.

He was a NZ Basketball Federation Executive from 1978-83, as well as Treasurer of the NZ Referees Association and manager of the Men’s National team for three overseas tours. Passionate about wheelchair sport, he served on the National Wheelchair Rugby Committee before becoming Treasurer of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. He headed the local organising committee that hosted the IWBF Asia Championships in Hamilton in 2000, a qualifying tournament for the Sydney Paralympic Games of that year. In addition, Brian attended another five Asia-Oceania Championships as a technical delegate.

Brian also made a huge contribution to basketball administration in the Waikato over a 30-year period, administering clubs, competitions and tournaments. A long time President of the Hamilton Basketball Association and the subsequent Waikato Basketball Council, he was an ardent supporter of divisional basketball.



Jody Cameron – this award recognises a notable contribution to women’s basketball in New Zealand. Having already received the Coach of the Year award earlier in the evening for her sideline successes in 2023, it’s worth reflecting on her wider basketball journey for this award.

After heading to Hamilton to complete her schooling at Church College, Jody was selected for the Junior Tall Ferns tours of Australia in 1993 and 1994 before debuting for the senior national team in 1996. She played at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and on the silver medal-winning team at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, part of her 79 Tall Ferns appearances.

After a 20-year playing career, Jody took a short break to focus on family before getting into coaching with Westlake Girls High School and then St Mary’s College in Ponsonby. She also held the Women’s Basketball Development Officer role at North Harbour Basketball for four years.

Jody began coaching internationally nine years ago when she was appointed NZ U16 head coach for the FIBA U16 Oceania Championships. Her coaching portfolio has grown ever since; along the way completing a unique Commonwealth Games double as Tall Ferns assistant coach (2018 Gold Coast Games) alongside her appearance as an athlete in 2006.



Rodney King – Former FIBA referee Rodney King retired from active officiating in 2006 after 46 years of service. One of New Zealand’s finest referees, Rodney also devoted much of his time to coach education and administration at local, national and international level.

His commitment to coach education saw him preparing course material for the BBNZ Referees and Table Officials courses and examinations. In recent years, Rodney has been an integral part of the NZ Basketball Foundation, maintaining the membership database and formulating the quarterly newsletters – providing detail on past basketball players, coaches and contributors. Being involved in genealogy, he has provided ongoing critical assistance to the Foundation with various archiving projects.

Rodney is also the author of “In the Hotspot”, a history of basketball refereeing in New Zealand.



Keith Price – Seven years ago, Keith Price joined the Hawkes Bay Hawks as Chairman, tasked with keeping the team competitive – and financially stable – in the National League. Under Keith’s stewardship the Hawks stayed in the league and became both financially secure and competitive, making top six and higher in the past few seasons. Keith retired from the Board at the start of the year.

John Carley – John Carley has been actively involved in serving the Taranaki basketball community across many voluntary roles, including refereeing the game for 33 years (1982-2015) with 16 years on the NBL’s referees panel. He also registered 24 years of service as a score bench official for Taranaki NBL games and 13 years leading the stats team for NBL games – a role he still fulfils today.



Jayden Rosanowski – Jayden enjoyed a tremendous 2023 refereeing both at a local and national level, giving a lot of time for the recruitment and development of referees via his local club Pioneer. Highlights from 2023 included refereeing the Women’s U19 National Final and Women’s Tertiary Championship National Final, as well as refereeing at Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns High Performance camps and leading rules sessions for High Performance coaches and players.

Jayden was also named Canterbury Basketball’s Most Valuable Senior Referee and was named The University of Canterbury’s Sports Official of the Year.



Alastair Tod – Alastair’s long career as a Technical Official began in the 1980’s when he was responsible for the score table and stats team for the North Harbour National League team, the Women’s team and a second division men’s team. He also officiated a number of games in the Women’s Division 1 and Men’s Division 2 fixtures.

Today he continues to coordinate both the score table and stats personnel for Harbour’s national league teams, as well as the Auckland Tuatara and Northern Kāhu. Alastair is also known as the score table coordinator for the NZ Breakers in the ANBL since their inception in 2003. As a qualified FIBA Technical Commissioner, he oversaw the FIBA U19 Men’s World Championship in 2009, as well as the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the 2018 FIBA Under 17 Men’s World Championship in Argentina.



John Carley – John, who earlier in the evening was presented with the Cedric Cudby Volunteer Award, was also recognised for his 40 years of service to the Taranaki basketball community.



Alastair Tod – Alastair, who earlier in the evening was presented with the Ian Goodwin Services to Officiating Award, was also recognised for his 40 years of service to the basketball community.

In addition to his refereeing and score bench work, Alastair was a player in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He also began as a coach at Glenfield College on Auckland’s North Shore from 1981, up until the present day. He has served on numerous committees including the North Harbour Secondary Schools Basketball Committee, Chair of Auckland Secondary Schools Basketball committee and the North Harbour Basketball Association committee.

Alastair also helped rewrite the bylaws of the Auckland Secondary Schools Basketball group and was recognised by ASB College Sport Auckland with a Services to School Sport Award in 2006.