Category Archives: College Hoops

Tom Higgins latest Kiwi to commit to an NCAA Div II college

It’s difficult to keep tabs on all the Kiwis attending college in the States and those we pay closest attention to are invariably the NCAA Division I players.

However with the ever-growing number of New Zealand players heading to Division Two schools interest in that level of the college game is bound to increase.

The announcement this week that Tom Higgins, who has been training with the Mainland Eagles Academy since leaving Auckland Grammar School last year, is headed to Texas A&M International next month the interest in the Heartland Conference which will feature four Kiwis next college season has been heightened.

In addition to Higgins two other freshmen, Will Heather and Oscar Oswald, will be playing in the Heartland Conference as will Nikau McCullough.

Higgins will head to Texas to play for the Dustdevils following the Fiba U18 Asia Cup in Thailand early next month. Also on international duty is former Palmerston North Boys High standout Oscar Oswald who will head to St Edwards University, Austin in August.

The third freshman is William Heather – the former Rosmini College forward will suit up for Dallas Baptist University Patriots the reigning Heartland Conference regular season champions. Heather and Higgins will come face to face early in the conference season, the Patriots entertaining the Dustdevils at the Burg Centre in their conference home opener on December 1st.

Waikato guard McCullough is about to embark on his third year at St Mary’s University, Texas. McCullough was a member of the New Zealand 3×3 team that won gold at the 2015 Fiba U18 World Cup in Hungary. In addition to the former St John’s College star that team comprised of Tai Wynyard, Sam Timmins and Matt Freeman.

Kiwi men attending NCAA Division II Universities for the 2018-2019 collegiate season:


Mandela Baledrokadroka Davis & Elkins College
Jayden Bezzant Northwest Nazarene University
Denhym Brooke University of Hawaii at Hilo
Isaac Davidson Sonoma State University
Wilfred Dickson South Dakota School of Mines & Tech
Logan Elers South Dakota School of Mines & Tech
William Heather Dallas Baptist University
Tom Higgins Texas A&M International
Liam McRae Minot State University
Nikau McCullough St Mary’s University Texas
Oscar Oswald St Edwards University
Tom Power University of Hawaii at Hilo
William Raisbeck Notre Dame College
Alex Talma Biola University
Zack Te Puni College of Saint Rose
Haize Walker Concordia University-Portland
Brandon Watkins Mars Hill University

Stella Beck swaps Gaels for Flames

SMC Women's Basketball vs Gonzags

Stella Beck, having recently completed a four-year scholarship at St Mary’s College, California, has begun her post university basketball career at Townsville Flames playing alongside Tall Fern Micaela Cocks.

Last weekend and in her third outing for the Queensland Basketball League leaders she scored 8 points (4/8FG) and dished 4 assists in the 98-82 win against Ipswich Force.

Beck enjoyed a stellar (excuse the pun) career at St Mary’s where back in April she was named first team All-West Coast Conference for the second time in her career after leading the Gaels in scoring, steals and free-throw shooting in her final collegiate season. She was also named to the WCC All-Academic First Team for the third time in her career. Beck finished her career 10th on the all-time scoring list at Saint Mary’s with 1,439 career points. She joined the 1,000 career points club on November 24, 2017 against UC Santa Barbara, becoming the 21st Gael to accomplish the feat. She had 10 games with at least 20 points, including a career-high 31 points versus Pacific back in January.

The Flames have a 9 win and 1 loss record and will next Friday entertain Gladstone Port City Power. Gladstone also has a couple of Kiwis in their lineup with Ashleigh Kelman-Poto and Milomilo Nanai two of their better performers – both averaging double figure points scoring.

A chat with Yanni Wetzell


YanniA product of the Westlake Boys and Harbour Basketball programmes Yanni Wetzell shared some thoughts on college basketball and his Tall Blacks aspirations.

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Will Heather commits to Dallas Baptist



William Heather is the latest Kiwi to be offered a basketball scholarship in the USA.

The former Rosmini College and Hastings Boys High student has committed to Dallas Baptist University. DBU, known as the Patriots, are an NCAA Division II university and play in the Heartland Conference.

The Patriots were Heartland Conference champions in both 2018 and 2016 and beaten finalists in 2017.

The Heartland Conference already has a strong Kiwi link:

Former Westlake Boys player Yanni Wetzell went to St Mary’s Texas before transferring to Vanderbilt.

Waikato guard Nikau McCullough is a sophomore – also at St Mary’s

Oscar Oswald from Palmerston North Boys will begin his scholarship at St Edwards University at the same time as Will.

Originally from the Hawkes Bay, Heather moved to Auckland in 2015 to further his basketball playing opportunities.

Last year he was a key member of the Rosmini College Premier Basketball team that won the Secondary Schools National Championship.

He scored 15 points in the final against defending champions Rangitoto College and a team high 25 points in the semi-final win against Christ’s College.

Heather was also a member of the New Zealand team that finished fourth at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup in Chengdu, China last year.

Heather is delighted at the prospect of heading to Dallas later in the year.

“It’s been a dream of mine to play college basketball in the States since I was in intermediate school.

“So many people have helped me achieve this dream. Not only my family, who have all made sacrifices for me, but also the various coaches along the way including Matt Lacey, Curtis Wooten and my older brothers Sonny and Geoff, and all of my representative coaches.

“Many people in the Rosmini College community have also supported me academically, financially and spiritually. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for a young guy from the Hawkes Bay during the last three years.

“Finally a big thanks to Harbour Basketball and Hawkes Bay Basketball for giving me the opportunities to further my basketball development.

“I’m really looking forward to heading to DBU to meet up with the team and the coaching staff,” he added.

Heather is believed to be the first Rosmini College student to gain an NCAA college basketball scholarship.

Rosmini Head Coach Matt Lacey is delighted that William is able to fulfill his long held desire to play NCAA college basketball.

“William has worked hard on all aspects of his game since arriving at Rosmini College early in 2015.

“The chance to play at DBU is an opportunity for William to showcase the skills that he is blessed with. He has great touch and footwork and possesses an inside game that will flourish under Head Coach Blake Flickner and his staff at DBU.

“Most importantly William is a good person and teammate that wants to do well and continually strives to get better, attributes that I believe will serve him well with the Patriots.

We at Rosmini College will be following his progress closely and I sincerely hope he is not the last student from our school to join the DBU men’s basketball programme.”

Harbour college players – seven of the best



Seven former Harbour men played college basketball in the States during the recently completed 2017/18 season.

Here we take a look at how they performed.

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Harbour women excel – end of season report


Tera ReedIt has been a good season for the Harbour players in American collegiate basketball during the 2017-18 season.

Here is the end of season report.

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Curtain comes down on US college season for Harbour Reps

zara jillings

It’s all over for the last of the Harbour reps playing at end of season college tournaments in the USA. However there is a silver lining for Zara Jillings.

Also a bit of Harbour Breeze news.

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Harbour players still flying NZ flag at national tournaments in the States

zara jillings

Despite all the Kiwis bowing out in the first round of the Big Dance there are still players involved at the sharp end of a couple of major tournaments in American college basketball.

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Kiwis bow out early from Big Dance

Jack Salt

The involvement of the Kiwis in the NCAA Tournament ended in stunning fashion on Saturday when the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, stunned Jack Salt and the University of Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia became the first No 1 seed to lose to a No 16 seed in NCAA Men’s Tournament history, bundled out 74-51.

Last week we were celebrating a record eight New Zealanders heading for the Big Dance. On Saturday the dancing shoes were thrown in the closet for 2018 as all eight suffered first round exits.

On Friday Oklahoma Sooners (Matt Freeman) and Miami Hurricanes (Sam Waardenburg) were shown the door.

If that was disappointing Saturday’s action quickly changed from a quick step to a slow waltz as team after team struggled to keep pace with their opponents.

In early action on Saturday, Northern Colorado (Krystal Leger-Walker and Tiarna Clarke), Cal State Northridge (Tessa Boagni) and Cal Berkeley (Penina Davidson) left the stage.

Soon after Jacinta Beckley (Seattle University) became the fifth and final Kiwi woman to bow out.

New Zealand’s hopes of second round representation then rested on the broad shoulders of Salt but he and the Cavaliers missed their steps badly and became the victims of arguably the biggest upset in Men’s Tournament history.

The disappointment for Boagni, Davidson and Beckley will be the most acute as all three are seniors and their successful four-year college careers now come to an end.

For the other five, and the numerous other Kiwis on NCAA Division 1 teams, the practice routines for the 2019 Big Dance will soon get under way.

Kiwi women exit Big Dance after first round


Last week’s ‘Super Sunday’ when a record five Kiwi women reached the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament is replaced by ‘Sad Saturday’ as all five bowed out in the first round of the Big Dance today.

The individual performance of the day belonged to Tessa Boagni. Despite another massive performance from the Big West Tournament MVP Cal State Northridge Matadors went out 99-81 against Notre Dame.

The former Christchurch Girls High standout finished with 23 points (11/14FG), 13 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Matadors. Boagni has finished her career in style. She led the Matadors to a Big West Conference Championship and across the last nine games, since mid February, has averaged 20 points and 9 rebounds per game.

The University of California Berkeley were without Kristine Anigwe, their leading rebounder and scorer for their encounter with Virginia.

Penina Davidson picked up the slack in the paint recording 10 rebounds and 3 blocks plus 2 points but Cal couldn’t quite overcome the loss of Anigwe. The scores were tied at 57 apiece with two minutes to play but Cal were outscored down the stretch losing 68-62. The senior forward finished the season averaging 7.4 points and 7 rebounds for Cal.

Also finishing her career with a loss was Jacinta Beckley. Seattle University Redhawks were up against it facing Oregon Ducks, the Pac-12 champions with a 30-4 record this season and ranked No 6 in the country. As anticipated Seattle struggled throughout and were eventually beaten 88-45. Beckley, playing her last game for Seattle, finished with 6 points but does have a Western Athletic Conference winners-medal to cherish.

Like Seattle it was a first ever appearance at the Big Dance for Northern Colorado Bears. The Bears, featuring Krystal Leger-Walker and Tiarna Clarke, found the going too tough against seventh seeded Michigan losing 75-61. Leger-Walker had 4 points and 4 assists with freshman guard Tiarna Clarke knocking down 2 from 3 threes for 6 points for the Big Sky champions.