Te Rangi signing a coup for Southland Sharks
The Southland Sharks have secured one of the country's most exciting young prospects for next season's national league while also welcoming back a familiar face.
Highly sought after Junior Tall Blacks captain Reuben Te Rangi will head south after an impressive debut season, where he was named rookie of the year, while playing for the Harbour Heat.
Big man Gareth Dawson, who was a foundation member of the Sharks and played 35 games for the team between 2010 and 2011, will return to Southland after representing the Nelson Giants this year.
Te Rangi and Dawson join American point guard Kevin Braswell and former Junior Tall Black Morgan Natanahira as confirmed signings for 2013.
Auckland-based Te Rangi, 18, who is a development player with the New Zealand Breakers, is rated highly in basketball circles and was actively sought by several teams.
Last year, Te Rangi teamed up with Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster, to help New Zealand win the inaugural FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championship in Italy. His promise was further illustrated in June when he was named most valuable player of the Nike All-Asia Camp at Guangzhou, China.
Te Rangi averaged 7.9 points per game in his first season in the New Zealand national league and was the third most accurate three-point shooter in the competition. He can play both the shooting guard and small forward positions.
The Sharks will be glad he will be on their team next season, after producing a fine game against them last year with the Heat, where he landed all six of his three-point attempts.
Sharks coach Paul Henare said he was delighted to add a player of Te Rangi's ability, but warned not to place too high expectations on his young shoulders.
"He is only 18 years old. As great a talent as he is, I don't expect him to come into our team and be our MVP, or the league MVP. I want him to come in and play his natural game and get used to his surroundings."
The 2.05m Dawson will provide the Sharks with some much-needed height and a dominant inside presence for next season.
Dawson, 23, has shown flashes of brilliance during his NBL career, but has been plagued by a lack of consistency. This year, he averaged 7.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game with Nelson.
Henare said Dawson had all the tools to be a strong player in the league and he would be working hard on his game with him during the pre-season.
"I really don't think the national league has seen the best of Gareth Dawson. By providing him with a positive environment and a little bit of extra coaching . . . hopefully he can come out and have a good year for us."
He believed Dawson had unique skills for a player of his size and hoped he would be a valuable addition to their frontline for 2013.
"There's not many Kiwis out there running around, who are 6ft 9in or 6ft 10in and have the natural abilities Gareth has.
"He can move well for a big guy. He's got a good mid-range shot. He's another one who has massive upside to him."
The Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks are in talks with several other players from around the league and are optimistic of having the bulk of their squad finalised by Christmas.
Henare said they would hold off signing their second American import until they had the majority of their New Zealand players locked in. They will likely use their second import spot on a high-scoring shooting guard or a big man.
Reuben Te Rangi, Gareth Dawson, Kevin Braswell, Morgan Natanahira
- The Southland Times