From Kapiti to the US via Cairo - youngster Isaac Letoa's basketball journey
A Junior Tall Black's basketball career has taken him from the fields and courts of Kapiti to international competition around the world.
Isaac Letoa is currently in Cairo for the under-19 basketball world cup.
Starting at point guard, Letoa had 13 points, five rebounds and a team-high +11 on the plus-minus in their 74-70 loss to Argentina on Wednesday.
Earlier in the tournament he started his side's first-up 88-81 win over South Korea, and 80-69 defeat to France.
They face Germany in the knockout rounds on Thursday morning.
At the end of next month, the 185cm Letoa heads to the US to take up a scholarship with Ivy League college Dartmouth.
It's the latest leap in the 18-year-old's burgeoning career. He is already an NBL champion, with the Wellington Saints, and has represented New Zealand at various age-group levels since 2014.
Letoa was a member of the New Zealand Breakers academy and has eight years of regional age-group experience.
The former Kapiti resident attended Raumati Beach School, north of Wellington, and cut his teeth with Kapiti Hoop Club.
Hoop club coach Angelo Robinson said both Isaac and his brother Jordan stuck out from an early age.
"I certainly identified early on that Isaac had a certain x-factor about him.
"I kept telling his father 'Jordan is a really good player, but I am telling you, watch out for that little Isaac. He is a silent assassin'."
Father Fata Letoa, also a coach at the club, said his son had worked hard to achieve his long-standing goal.
"Both my wife and I are really proud of the hard work he has put in. We knew he had talent, but he's put a lot of effort in people didn't see."
Dartmouth are an NCAA I basketball school, but they had a 7-20 record last year and failed to make the national tournament.
Letoa, who will study engineering, said the decision to choose the school was about more than just basketball.
"I researched and realised pretty quickly that a degree from an Ivy League school could open up so many doors in the future. Their alumni system is so well-respected in the States and in many parts of the world."
Letoa was in the top 8 per cent of students around the country when he finished high school last year, giving him the academic backing to attend Dartmouth.
A keen footballer, rugby player and athlete, Letoa turned down an Australian Rules scholarship while at Wellington College, choosing to focus on basketball.
He started at Westlake Boys' High School after his family moved to Auckland, captaining their basketball team last year.
Letoa is the latest in a string of basketball scholarship recipients from the school - Kirk Penney, Rob Loe and Tai Webster are all old boys.