Seventeen-year-old Mitchell Newton is taking another decent step in his promising basketball career as he suits up for the New Zealand under-20 team in Australia this week.
The New Zealand team is playing in the Australian State under-20 championships and, for the St Peter's College student, the experience of playing at that level is expected to be a big boost in his development.
Newton still has another year in the age group and Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare said getting the chance to play in this year's tournament was ideal for him.
Newton is part of the Sharks' wider training squad and he has spent time working with Henare since he moved south to join the Sharks. Henare actually played a hand in Newton's selection, recommending the Southlander to his former Tall Black team-mate Pero Cameron who is coaching the New Zealand under-20 team.
"They had a sort of cluster camp in three different regions around the country for that age group and then had a national selection camp in Auckland - I was there for the under-17s and Pero was obviously there for the under-20s.
"I was talking to Pero and their staff about players they have in different positions and one of the areas they were struggling with was in the forward position, and I said, ‘Do you know this kid Mitchell', who obviously I'd been working with for a couple of months, and just suggested they might want to have a look at him.
"They added him to their database and, fortunately enough, Pero was in town and got to see Mitchell first hand."
Newton was originally named a non-travelling reserve but got called into the squad as a travelling reserve.
Henare said he had been encouraged by Newton's determination during the time they have worked together.
"I think [his selection] is a tribute to his work ethic from what I've seen during my time here.
"If he had made a bad impression on me maybe I wouldn't have been so glowing in my praise when I spoke to Pero."
The Australian State Championships includes New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, ACT, Western Australia and New Zealand.
The tournament is being played in Tasmania and will continue through to Saturday, when the finals will be held.
- The Southland Times