Thirty young athletes will have to wait a few days before finding out which of them will be selected for Sky City Breakers Development players places for the 2014/15 season.
Over 50 players applied to participate in the trial from which 30 were invited to attend the two-day work out at the Breakers training facility in Mairangi Bay. Five or six of the thirty will be invited to make up the ‘D’ squad when team training gets underway in September.
Breakers head coach Dean Vickerman has revamped his senior squad, selecting a more athletic, defensively capable unit. He and his coaching team are likely to be doing the same when selecting the Development group.
Breakers Academy head coach Judd Flavell was delighted with the overall standard of the group. “Eight or nine years ago when I started at the Breakers the development players virtually selected themselves. At that time we were selecting 21 or 22 year olds because they were the one’s doing well in the NBL but these days we have teenagers really pushing for places and a lot of youngsters with NBL teams or coming through the Breakers Academy.”
With one eye on the future and the other on immediate needs such as covering for injuries to senior players, we can expect players named to be covering a variety of positions. The age range will also be reasonably wide as well.
Flavell added, “These days we are not shy of throwing a teenager into the mix in the same way that the Tall Blacks have. It’s great because it is just increasing our pool of talent.” Two who fit into that category are Tai Wynyard and Yuat Alok.
Tall Black Wynyard at just 16 years is a certainty and Alok his teammate at Rangitoto College is another strong candidate. Both are very young but provide the rim protection that the coaching staff is keen to develop.
Ultimately Wynyard will be heading to college in the USA but Alok’s future is less clear. He is more likely to remain domiciled in New Zealand and Breakers management may well feel it worthwhile investing in the 6’8’’forward.
Both will need their workloads managing closely to enable them to complete their high school studies.
Jordan Ngatai was a solid performer at the trial. At ANBL level he is probably undersized to play in the four spot but he has US College, NBL and Tall Blacks experience under his belt already and he is still only 21. Ultimately he may have to, like Duane Bailey, develop the skill set to be a three man but he is certainly capable of providing immediate injury cover should injuries sideline senior players.
Shea Ili caught the eye in the scrimmages displaying not only his ability to attack the basket off the dribble or in transition but also knocking down a reasonable percentage of outside shots. His quickness and tenacity is also a benefit at the defensive end of the court.
If my four picks above are proven correct that then leaves one or two places up for grabs and a whole host of players worthy of selection. Marco Alexander, Ana Haku, Ethan Rusbatch and Alonzo Burton all had their moments but then again so did a number of other players. Burton, with a year as a development player already under his belt, may have the inside running.
The future of New Zealand basketball is on the rise and the Breakers programme is certainly playing a major part in player development.