There are a total of 16 players that have played in the NBL this season attending trials for the Breakers Development player places for the 2014/15 ANBL season.
The trials, being held this Saturday and Sunday, feature players that have represented all ten NBL clubs, four from Taranaki Mountain Airs being the largest representation – Brad Anderson, Dane Brooks, Derek Albertsen and Aled Jones.
So what are the Breakers coaching staff likely to be looking for when they select the four or five players who will be Development players for the upcoming season?
First and foremost they are looking at potential, the coaching team of Dean Vickerman, Judd Flavell and high performance manager Mike Fitchett will be assessing not just the current form of the players but their ability over the next year or more to earn respectable minutes off the bench for the SKY CITY Breakers.
None of the thirty players attending the trial are capable of playing major minutes in the ANBL at present but one or two may be capable of helping out if senior players are absent due to injury once they are schooled in the Breakers way. Duane Bailey was able to assist in this regard last season and Reuben Te Rangi the season before. Both had NZNBL experience under their belts plus the physical prowess to help succeed at the higher level.
Who fits the criteria above? Ethan Rusbach, Brad Anderson. Marco Alexander Anamata Haku, possibly have the quickness and athleticism. Will they get better? That’s what the coaching staff has to decide.
Do they have the no ‘dick heads’ character the Breakers like?
Another strong candidate is Shea Ili, it will be nice to see the young guard suiting up after the trials and tribulations he has endured during the past few weeks.
One player who will be closely monitored is Wellington Saints forward Jordan Ngatai. The 20 year old was capped by the Tall Blacks in 2013 and may just have the game to be a back up forward for the upcoming campaign.
My guess is one of the above will secure a place as the ‘senior’ Development player alongside the current Tall Black Tai Wynyard.
Wynyard is a freak and I mean that as a compliment. At just 16 he possesses a mature man’s size, strength and athleticism, has great hands and plays above the rim. The Breakers will use him, it’s just a question of how much, bearing in mind he is still in year 12 at Rangitoto College and has already missed a big chunk of the academic year due to international commitments.
Alonzo Burton made a favourable impression during his time as a Development player last season. Unfortunately that good showing didn’t translate into an outstanding season with the Manawatu Jets but he likely has enough credits to warrant another opportunity
That leaves a host of players queuing up for the remaining couple of places. Matt Freeman, Nikau McCullough and Joel Valangina were outstanding for the NZ U18 Men earlier in the year and Dyson King-Hawea improved enough with the Waikato Pistons to earn a Tall Blacks trial.
The previously mentioned athletes are some of the strongest candidates but all 30 will be doing everything they can to stake a claim.
The weekend will be interesting.
List of athletes attending:
Aled Jones Taranaki Mountain Airs
Alonzo Burton Manawatu Jets
Ana Haka Hawkes Bay Hawks
Ashton McQueen Nelson Giants
Brad Anderson Taranaki Mountain Airs
Dane Brooks Taranaki Mountain Airs
Derek Albertson Taranaki Mountain Airs
Dyson King-Hawea Waikato Pistons
Ethan Rusbatch Canterbury Rams
Isaac Letoa Breakers Academy
Jackson Stent Breakers Academy
Jaylen Gerrand Breakers Academy/ Super City Rangers
Joel Vaiangina St Kentigern Colleg
Jordan Ngatai Wellington Saints
Luuk Witteveen Breakers Academy
Marco Alexander Hawkes Bay Hawks
Matt Freeman Breakers Academy
Matt Lacey Waikato Pistons
Michael Woodbridge IMG Academy
Nick Barrow Waikato Pistons
Nikau McCullough Waikato Pistons
Richard Rodger Otago Boys High School
Sam Colenutt Glendowie College
Shea Ili Counties Manukau
Tony Tolovae Otago Nuggets
Tyler Payne Central Coast Adventist School (Australia)
Yanni Wetzell Breakers Academy
Yuat Alok Breakers Academy