Head and shoulders above rest

BY DANIEL RICHARDSON
Last updated 12:00 01/10/2009
THE AIR UP THERE: St John's College centre Mark Overdevest (2.18m) and Westlake Boys' High School centre Rob Loe (2.11m) tower over 1.78m tall Westlake guard Mitch Richmond.
BEN CURRAN/Manawatu Standard
THE AIR UP THERE: St John's College centre Mark Overdevest (2.18m) and Westlake Boys' High School centre Rob Loe (2.11m) tower over 1.78m tall Westlake guard Mitch Richmond.

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Rob Loe might be 2.11m tall and a Tall Black while still at high school but he says he's just one of the team when he plays for Westlake Boys' High School.

The 18-year-old has been in dominant form for the Auckland school at the secondary schools national championships in Palmerston North this week.

His team was unbeaten after five rounds yesterday and Loe has been averaging 24 points per game.

"I'm not really trying too hard for myself," he said. "I'm trying for the team. I'm not going to go out there and try and score 50 points.

"It's a bit relaxing I guess. It's fun playing with the guys, I've known them all my life."

Loe became the youngest debutant in Tall Blacks' history when he played against Australia in August.

He was selected on his strong performances for the Junior Tall Blacks at the under-19 world championships in New Zealand early this year.

Loe said things had happened pretty fast.

"It's been really busy. I've missed quite a lot of school and things but it's been a great experience."

While being tall is a good start he is now in the process of adding some bulk to his 110kg frame, but he isn't sure how much muscle he needs to put on.

"I don't know, I'm just doing a lot of weights," he laughed.

Loe, who used to play volleyball until Year 10 before basketball took over, said his plans for next year were up in the air.

"I'm not too sure what I'm doing but I'm hoping to get to the United States and hopefully get into the Tall Blacks again for the world champs."

But while Loe stands just a shade under seven feet tall in the old measure, there is one schoolboy who is taller than him.

St John's College centre Mark Overdevest is 2.18m and at only 16, he gets heads turning.

The Year 12 transferred from Morrinsville College at the start of the year to improve his game under the tutelage of former Tall Black and St John's old boy Mike Homik.

Auckland Stars forward Casey Frank has also been assisting the team while it is at the tournament.

"They're just better coaches to help me out," Overdevest said.

St John's have had mixed results this week, with two wins and three losses.

Overdevest, who wears a size 17 shoe, recently went to a camp in China for the NBA's Basketball Without Borders programme, after he was introduced to the right people at the under-19 world championships.

It was the one of the rare opportunities where he got to match up against players who were his height and he worked on some aspects of his game.

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Standing at his height is always going to draw attention from people but he said he had learnt to take it in his stride.

"Walking through town you get everyone staring at you. You've just got to ignore it, but you take it if they ask for photos."

- Manawatu Standard

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