Kiwi Ballers Worldwide: Men’s DIV II & III, Canada & NAIA Div I

Last week we highlighted the Kiwi men playing NCAA Division I basketball; this week we focus the spotlight on athletes playing in the equally competitive tiers just below that level.

Combined numbers for the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), NCAA Division II and III levels and the Canadian Universities competitions number 29 players in total, a slight increase on the 26 who performed in the 2021-22 season.


NCAA Division II


Josh Lowe – Graduate Senior at Lee University

Coming out of Ashburton College, the Cantabrian forward missed the entire 2020-21 season after undergoing surgery. Lowe played 59 games for Lee, making 36 starts and tallying 302 pts; he scored a season-high 14 pts against Johnson in 2021-22.

Matt Brien – Senior at University of Nebraska at Kearney

Formerly of St Kevin’s Oamaru and St Pat’s College, Wellingtonian Brien played 39 games for the Panthers. In the 2021-22 season he played 17 games, making 2 starts – posting a double-double of 15 pts and 10 reb against Sterling.

William Heather – Senior at Dallas Baptist University

Heather has 55 appearances to his name for DBU, but only played 10 games in 2021-22 due to injury. He scored a career-best 21 pts against Colorado Mesa in the same season. Heather is originally from Hawkes Bay but completed high school at Rosmini College – claiming a National Secondary Schools title in 2018.



Mac Stodart – Junior at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Stodart transferred to Colorado Springs last year after playing his freshman season at Concordia University. He started 6 of his 26 appearances last season, posting a career-high 23 pts versus Adams State. Stodart graduated from St Andrew’s College – after having earlier attended James Hargest College in Invercargill – and played for NZ at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina.

Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones – Junior at University of Hawaii at Hilo

Tait-Jones is averaging 16.8 pts, 8.1 reb and 2.2 ast per game over his first two collegiate years – leading the Hilo in scoring both years. The former St Pat’s, Kilbirnie standout was named PacWest Conference Freshman of the Year in 2020-21 and earned All PacWest Honours last season.

Marvin Williams-Dunn – Junior at Ouachita Baptist University

Williams-Dunn has played 45 games for the Tigers, making 15 starts, and was third on the team in 3-point shooting (36.5%) last season. He captained the NZ team at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina, and was also a two-time National Champion with Rosmini College.



Sean Murphy – Sophomore at University of Nebraska Kearney

Murphy appeared in all 28 games last season, making 23 starts and excelling at the defensive end with 5.5 reb per game to compliment his 4.9 ppg on 53% shooting. The former Harbour and Rosmini forward played for NZ at the 2018 FIBA Oceania Championship, as well as playing on the Rosmini College National Championship-winning teams of 2018 and 2019.



Josh Book – Freshman at Missouri Western State University

Originally from Nelson, Book finished his high school career at Christ’s College; the combo guard named to the Tournament Team after helping Canterbury win the 2022 U19 National Championship. Book has a terrific basketball pedigree, with his father Ed Book playing for the Tall Blacks and sister Amiee a senior at Fresno State University. Book also played on the 2018 NZ U15 team at the Oceania Champs in Papua New Guinea.

Jackson Rhodes – Freshman at West Virginia Wesleyan College

Coming out of St Andrew’s College in Christchurch, the 190cm guard was a member of the extended Canterbury Rams squad in 2022. Rhodes was also named to the 2022 Canterbury U19 team.

Rufus Rusholme-Cobb – Freshman at Franklin Pearce University

The former Scots College combo-guard completed his school education at Coconino High School in Arizona, where he led the team in scoring in 2021-22 with 11.4ppg. He was named to the 2022 NZ U18 team.


NCAA Division III


Oscar Oswald – Graduate transfer at Sul Ross State University, Texas

The former Junior Tall Black out of Palmerston North Boys High School had his career at St Edwards University severely hampered by injury; he will play the 2022-23 season with Sul Ross State Lobos in Texas. Oswald played for NZ at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece, where he averaged 6 pts and 3 reb per game.



Alex Blackmore – Sophomore at Castleton University

The former St Pat’s Silverstream wing spent some time at DME Sports Academy, Florida before going to Castleton; with the Spartans playing in the Little East Conference. Blackmore appeared in all 26 games for Castleton in 2021-22, making 11 starts and scoring 151 points.

Lachie MacFarlane – Sophomore at Orbelin College, Ohio

Former Rangiora High School guard, Lachie McFarlane will play his second season for Orbelin Yeoman in the North Coast Athletic Conference in 2021-22.


NAIA Division I


Corey Le’aupepe – Graduate Senior at Menlo College

The former St Pat’s Town forward has carved out a strong career at Menlo College where he started all 26 games played last season – winning the 2022 Sports Performance Iron Oak Award. Le’aupepe has played 79 career games, scoring 732 points.



Finn McClure – Junior at Milligan University

The Wellington guard has made 24 starts in 37 appearances in his two seasons for Milligan, scoring 262 pts and dishing out 116 assists during that time.

Nico Hill – Junior at Missouri Baptist University

The 6’6” wing from Opunake, Taranaki previously played at Missouri State University West Plains – he made 71 appearances with 49 starts for the Grizzlies scoring 509 pts. Hill scored a career-high 31 pts against SEMO Prep last season, making 6 from 9 triples in the game.

Reihana Maxwell-Topia – Junior at St Francis University, Illinois

Maxwell-Topia established himself as a regular last season, playing 22 of 24 games for the Fighting Saints. Prior to this, he played for Harbour U23’s in 2022, and played for NZ at the 2019 FIBA U17 Oceania Championships in New Caledonia. He also played on the Rosmini College National Championship-winning teams of 2018 and 2019.

Maxim Stephens – Junior at Rocky Mountain College, Montana

The former Waikato and Hamilton Boys High forward has played 37 games for Rocky, averaging 12.5 pts and 7.1 reb per game in his 2021/22 sophomore year. The son of former Tall Black Neil Stephens, Maxim himself played for NZ at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece.



Sam Gold – Sophomore at Milligan University

Gold graduated from Tawa College in 2020, before playing the 2021-22 year at Holy Names University in the US. At Milligan University he teams up with fellow Wellingtonians Finn McClure and Piripi Korent. His brother -and current Tall Black – Ben plays at Marquette University.

Piripi Korent – Sophomore at Milligan University

The former St Pat’s College Silverstream played 23 games with 10 starts in his freshman season last year. He also secured 103 rebounds at 4.5 per game.

Kone Nabil – Sophomore at Trinity International University, Chicago

The Mali born – and Rotorua Boys High educated – forward played 29 games for the Trojans in his freshman year.

Kael Robinson – Sophomore at Rocky Mountain College, Montana

Robinson played 26 games for Rocky Mountain in 2021-22, averaging 8.5ppg. The former St John’s College, Hamilton wing played 14 games for the NBL Championship-winning Wellington Saints in 2021 and 15 games for Franklin Bulls in 2022.

Jackson Smyth – Sophomore at Southern Oregon University

Jackson, son of former Tall Black Haydn Smyth, grew up in Sydney playing for the Manly Warringah club. He played 26 games for Southern Oregon in 2021-22, and also suited up for the Tall Blacks in a one-off game versus Australia in 2021.



Braydon Iuli – Freshman at Menlo College

Iuli played 6 games for the Franklin Bulls in 2021 whilst still a year 13 at Tauranga Boys High School. He played all 21 games for the Auckland Tuatara in 2022, averaging 7.7ppg and shooting a team-high 40% (22/55) from the 3-point arc.

Garth Jepsen – Freshman at Oakland City University

A product of Tauranga Basketball and Tauranga Boys College, the 6’7” wing played two games for the Nelson Giants in the 2022 NBL season.

Caleb Landon – Freshman at Our Lady of the Lake University

Landon graduated from Auckland Grammar School in 2021; he was a member of the extended Franklin Bulls squad in the 2022 NBL season.


Canadian Universities


Hayden Collier – Senior at University of Regina

The Cantabrian forward played two seasons at Laramie County College before beginning his University of Regina career in 2019. He played just two games last season before getting injured.

Isaac Miller-Jose – Senior at Manitoba University

Miller-Jose has played 51 games for the Bisons, scoring 206 points. He played for the Auckland Huskies in NBL 2020 before going on to win an NBL championship with the Wellington Saints in 2021.



River Drefers – Freshman at Memorial University

Drefers, a former Selwyn College guard, played for Auckland at the 2022 U19 National Championships where he was named to the Tournament Team.


*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.


Other articles:

NCAA Women Division I

NCAA Men Division I

NCAA Women Division II, II, Canada & NAIA Division I

NCAA Men Division II, II, Canada & NAIA Division I