Nelson College nursery for Tall Blacks
Nelson College's reputation as a nursery for national basketball talent was reaffirmed yesterday when the school was presented with a Tall Blacks honours board.
Since former Nelson College Old Boy Brian Cotton first wore the silver fern way back in 1955, the college has provided 19 players, spanning more than half a century, to the national men's team. The most recent is Nelson Giants guard Josh Bloxham, who is in this year's Tall Blacks squad along with Mika Vukona and Jeremiah Trueman.
After being involved in a similar tribute last year for the college's 19 former All Blacks rugby representatives, the school's resource manager, Steve Fitchett, also decided to recognise the achievements of the college's basketball stars.
Fitchett has also run the Nelson College Basketball Club for about the last 20 years.
Former New Zealand representatives Charlie Cotton (1963-66), Dave Taylor (1965-76 and a former captain) and Phill Jones (1994-2010), attended yesterday's special assembly.
Nelson College basketball captain Finn Delany and team-mate Zac Columbus presented the honours board to headmaster Gary O'Shea.
"In the late ‘60s, when I was playing basketball, Nelson and Nelson College were considered to be powerhouses of New Zealand basketball," Fitchett said.
"This has continued to be the case. Nelson is probably the only basketball town in New Zealand. It has produced more New Zealand players per capita than any other place in New Zealand."
Fitchett said Nelson College continues to have a big influence on New Zealand basketball.
For 18 of the last 21 years, the school's A team has been placed in the top-10 teams in the country, and for the last 10 years, at least 12 per cent of the players in the NBL have been Nelson College pupils.
"In the last 15 years, the inclusion of many of the college's top players in the Giants has enabled them to develop their game to a high level and for a number to become Tall Blacks and earn a living from the game.
"For example, Phill [Jones] has played professionally in Greece, Finland, Italy, Australia and New Zealand over the past 16 years."
Jones remains New Zealand's most capped Tall Black and, although unsure of the exact number, reckons he played "close to 300 games" for the side.
Nelson College Tall Blacks:
Brian Cotton (1955-1959), Frank Baldwin (1957-1962), Rex Martyn (1958), Grove Barker (1958-1959), Charlie Cotton (1963-1966), Dave Taylor (1965-1976), Chris Morris (1966-1967), Barry Harding (1970), PF Stigley (1969-1970), Nick Costley (1982-1985), Peter Logan (1984), Colin Crampton (1985-1986), Phill Jones (1994-2010), Michael Tompson (1999-2003), Mika Vukona (2005-), Ben Hill (2006-2008), Jeremiah Trueman (2006-), Michael Fitchett (2007-2011), Josh Bloxham (2012-).
- © Fairfax NZ News