Talented Kiwi basketballers increasingly thriving in US system

Like our junior footballers, a new young wave of basketballers is leading the charge, as a pathway to America now becomes clearer.

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A young wave of basketballers is leading the charge on the court, as the pathway to America becomes clearer. Source: 1 NEWS

There’s over 100 young Kiwi men and women on lucrative scholarships with top US universities, and a lot more to follow, as booming basketball numbers and college educations combine.

One of those is six-foot-10 former Westlake Boys’ High School student Yanni Wetzell, from Auckland’s North Shore.

He has one year left in the American college system, studying for a master's in business and playing ball for San Diego State University.

“It’s a completely different game, you’re going against athletes which you’ve never seen before,” he said. 

It’s not all glamour, however, with Wetzell saying it’s like working two full-time jobs – studying and playing – and shutting out the noise of social media and the pressure of high-level sport.

“You can’t let that get to you - I deleted my Twitter.”

Twenty basketballers from the North Shore alone are on scholarships, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

Another Westlake old boy, James Moors, 19, is about to leave for Colorado State and says New Zealand is now getting the exposure its talents deserve.

“It’s just a legacy now, you just have to understand that and help the kids realise we can do it.”