College Basketball half term report – Leger-Walker and Tait-Jones lead the way

28 December

In Part 1 of our American collegiate half term report we take a look at the leading scorers amongst the Kiwi contingent currently playing in North America. 

It’s not a total surprise that Charlisse Leger-Walker clearly leads the way in points scored and points per game at the mid-point of the collegiate season. Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones makes it a hyphenated double as he leads the way on the men’s side. 

Leger-Walker scored a career high 40 points earlier in the month and has scored 20 points or more on seven occasions this season. Having already amassed 1188 career points you suspect, barring injury, the former Waikato and St Peter’s guard is on course to pass Erin Rooney’s all-time Kiwi record of 1,647 career points.

Rotorua’s Waiata Jennings and Leah Mafua, both playing at junior college, are second and third on the rankings while Hannah Wentworth is the highest scoring kiwi in Women’s NCAA Division II hoops.

Jennings, in her freshman season, is leading the Collin Cougars scoring and had a season high 25 points against Angeline College. With a 12-0 record Collin are ranked #9 in the country amongst women’s junior college teams.

Leah Mafua is doing the same for #16 Dodge City College and with sister Jenna Rose averaging 11.9 points per game the Wellington siblings are providing a significant one-two back court punch for the Conquistadors.

Hannah Wentworth, in her second season with Eckerd College, is enjoying another strong season for the No 12 ranked NCAA Division II team. The Harbour shooting guard ranks sixth in 3-pointers made (35) – more on our top shooters in an upcoming report.

Leading Scorers – WomenClassUniversity/CollegeLevelPPGPoints
Charlisse Leger-WalkerJuniorWashington StateNCAA D121.1253
Waiata JenningsFreshmanCollin County CCJUCO15.3184
Leah MafuaSophomoreDodge City CCJUCO13.0182
Hannah WentworthSophomoreEckerd CollegeNCAA D212.5137
Briarley RogersSophomoreWeatherford JUCO11.9107
Te Araroa SopoagaSophomoreCloud County CCJUCO11.7164
Jenna Rose MafuaSophomoreDodge City CC JUCO11.4160
Amiee BookGrad SnrFresno StateNCAA D110.2133
Grace HunterJuniorCSU BakersfieldNCAA D19.758
Waiaaria RogersSophomoreMarshalltown CCJUCO9.466
Helen MatthewsJuniorWoffordNCAA D19.3111
Dominique StephensSophomoreRocky MountainNAIA9.1109
Dani BayesFreshmanBoise StateNCAA D19.0117

*records as at 26.12.2022

** 64 New Zealand women are currently on basketball scholarships in America and Canada.

Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones is building nicely on his previous two seasons at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Tait-Jones was named PacWest Conference Freshman of the Year in 2020-21 and to All-West Region Second team in 2021-22. This season he averages 17.8 points per game, the best by any Kiwi in collegiate basketball. The former St Pat’s and Wellington forward has amassed 798 career points at 17.0 points per outing across 47 NCAA Division II games.

Sam Mennenga is the second highest scoring Kiwi tallying 15.8 points per game at Davidson College in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Capped earlier in the year by the Tall Blacks at the Asia Cup, the ex-Harbour and Westlake Boys forward is up to 599 career points – already 16th all-time on the NZ Men’s Division I scorers list midway through his third collegiate year..

The Waikato duo of Maxim Stephens and Kael Robinson occupy third and sixth spots on the NZ scoring table as well as the top two spots on the Rocky Mountain College scoring list. Stephens has played just the five games following his recovery from ankle injuries while Robinson is obviously reaping the benefits of the 2022 season in the NBL with the Franklin Bulls – he has started all 12 games for Rocky.

Boston Caldwell, another ex-Westlake and Harbour player, is the highest scoring New Zealander amongst the 16 Kiwi freshmen playing in America in 2022-23. Caldwell scored a massive 38 points in Central Maine’s penultimate game before the Xmas break. Nate Wilson is the only other junior college player to be averaging double figures per game.

Like the women there are a pair of siblings on the leader board. The Cameron brothers – Tobias and Flynn – feature amongst  the top 14 Kiwi scorers (and also amongst the top five NCAA Division I players). 

Leading Scorers – MenClassUniversity/CollegeLevelPPGPoints
Aniwaniwa Tait-JonesJuniorHawaii at HiloNCAA D217.8142
Sam MennengaJuniorDavidson College NCAA D115.8189
Maxim StephensJuniorRocky MountainNAIA14.673
Boston CaldwellFreshCentral Maine CCJUCO13.4134
Corey Le’aupepeSeniorMenloNAIA13.1170
Kael RobinsonSophRocky MountainNAIA12.2146
Mac StodartSophColorado SpringsNCAA D211.6139
Callum McRaeSeniorSacramento StateNCAA D111.5138
Kruz Perrott-HuntSeniorSouth DakotaNCAA D111.3136
Sam GoldSophMilliganNAIA11.3136
Tobias Cameron SeniorAbilene ChristianNCAA D111.2145
Nate WilsonSophSouth Georgia TechJUCO10.6106
Flynn CameronSeniorUC RiversideNCAA D110.2122
Alex BlackmoreSophCastleton NCAA D310.494

*records as at 26.12.2022

NB 53 New Zealand men are currently on basketball scholarships in America and Canada.

In part two, dropping tomorrow, we will take a look at the leading rebounders – which three Kiwis are averaging over nine boards per game?

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