Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) wishes to extend its condolences to friends, family and the wider basketball community, following the tragic passing of Jake McKinlay on 20 December 2021.
BBNZ Chief Executive, Dillon Boucher says that McKinlay was a promising basketball player who was known as much for his heart as for his skills on the court.
“We mourn the loss of Jake and what he bought to New Zealand basketball during his time with us – he was a talent with a bright future, and was by all accounts a fantastic person both on and off the court,” says Boucher.
“Following his rapid basketball rise over the past few years, including his time in the Junior Tall Blacks, Jake was 100% on our radar as a potential future Tall Blacks player.
“Our thoughts go out to everyone in the basketball community during this difficult time.”
McKinlay, 20, was a promising athlete who grew up in the Manawatū region and attended Palmerston North Boys’ High School. In 2017 his Manawatū side made it to the finals of the U17 Aon National Championship, being named to the Tournament team for his efforts.
He followed this up with an extremely busy 2018 year, during which McKinlay captained his Palmerston North Boys’ Premier squad during the Schick ‘AA’ Secondary Schools National Championships and led Manawatū to the Finals of the U19 Aon National Champs – making the Tournament team. That same year McKinlay also made his first appearances for the Junior Tall Blacks; both at the FIBA U16 Asia Championships in China and at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina.
He debuted for the Manawatu Jets in the same year, joining a handful of players to play in the National Basketball League while still at high school. In 2019 he appeared in the U23 National Championships for Manawatū, making the finals and being named to the All-Star Five. That same year McKinlay was again named to Tournament team at the U19 Aon National Championship.
McKinlay then attended Mineral Area College – a Junior College based in Missouri in the United States – in 2020 and appeared in 26 games, before returning to New Zealand to again suit up for the Jets. A steadily improving player, McKinlay enjoyed increased success in the Sal’s NBL last season – including a man-of-the-match performance against the Taranaki Mountain Airs in which he collected 15 points, 7 rebounds and 7 steals.
With the 6’7” forward primed for a stellar 2022 on the basketball stage, Boucher reflected on how the New Zealand basketball community has lost an ascending talent.
“While we’ll never know now how good he could’ve become, it’s important that we – and others – help continue the legacy that Jake left for us in the basketball world.”
Jake McKinlay – Basketball Achievements:
U17 Aon National Championship – Led Manawatū to Finals, named to Tournament team
Named to the FIBA U16 Asia Championship in Foshan, China
Played for the Junior Tall Blacks in the FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina
U19 Aon National Championship – Took Manawatū to Finals, named to Tournament team
Schick ‘AA’ Secondary Schools National Championships – played for Palmerston North Boys High School, named to Tournament team
U23 National Championships – Took Manawatū to Finals, named to All-Star Five
U19 AON National Championships, Took Manawatū to Finals, named to Tournament team