Tai Wynyard makes cut for Tall Blacks squad

12:42, Jul 12 2014
Tai Wynyard
AIMING HIGH: Tai Wynyard hopes to be the next big thing in New Zealand basketball.

The 16-year-old son of a woodchopping legend has been included in a 17-strong Tall Blacks squad for next week's three-game home series against Korea.

Tai Wynyard, the son of multiple woodchopping world champion Jason, is one of four teenagers named in coach Nenad Vucinic's squad, along with Jack Salt, Tohi Smith-Milner (both 18) and Tai Webster (19).

Wynyard is a 2.01m forward from the Super City Rangers.

The series tips off at Wellington's TSB Bank Arena on Tuesday as New Zealand step up preparations for the August-September World Cup in Spain.

"We have got a lot of big guys at the moment where in the past we have suffered from a lack of size,'' Vucinic said.

''That is why at this point we have included Jack, Tai [Wynyard] and Tohi into this training squad for the Burger King series. We hope they will benefit a lot from their involvement over the next 10 days, being around some experienced players.

"What we have identified is we are maybe a little thin in the guard line. Tai [Webster] boosts our stocks in that regard when he arrives on Monday. He was with us a couple of years ago and has enjoyed a good season with Nebraska [University] and we are hoping that he comes back in good shape and good form and is able to slot in quickly."

Vucinic cut six players following two days of intensive trials in Auckland.

Finn Delaney, Jordan Ngatai and Dyson King missed out, while Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa and Duane Bailey were not considered due to injury and Richie Edwards withdrew from contention.

"It is very difficult to release young players from the squad but this is probably going to be the easiest of a few decisions that we will make in the weeks ahead as we build towards Spain and a final roster of just 12 players,'' Vucinic said.

"The three boys to miss out trialled very well but they are inexperienced in regards playing at this level. Jordan was with the Tall Blacks last year but after not getting a great deal of court time in the NBL he wasn't able to push his way in this time.

"All three, however, are players with great potential and will be involved in the future if they continue to progress. The two players released for medical reasons are unlucky with the timing of their injuries but we are hopeful that Duane may yet come back into the picture. But that will depend on his progress with his ankle."

Vucinic picked both Casey Frank and Nick Horvarth but can only take one American-born big man to Spain.

Rob Loe will miss the Korea series as he plays for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

New Zealand's sole NBA player, Steven Adams, is not available for this year's international programme, while Southland Sharks duo Reuben Te Rangi and Leon Henry were not considered as they face assault charges.

"Nick and Casey are battling for the one naturalised spot, but that doesn't mean we will eventually have a naturalised player on the team for Spain, they still have to fight for a spot on the team,'' Vucinic said.

''We have Rob Loe coming back into the group to add to the competition amongst the bigs but Nick and Casey know that while we can only take one of the two of them, there is the chance that neither might be selected."

Game two is in Tauranga next Thursday and game three in Auckland on Saturday week.

Tall Blacks to play South Korea: Tom Abercrombie, BJ Anthony, Everard Bartlett, Josh Bloxham, Isaac Fotu, Casey Frank, Nick Horvath, Jarrod Kenny, Kirk Penney, Alex Pledger, Jack Salt, Lindsay Tait, Tohi Smith-Milner, Mika Vukona, Corey Webster, Tai Webster, Tai Wynyard.