Walker-Leger to attend NBA program

By Te Ao Māori News

Two young Kiwi talents have been selected for the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in the United States.  The camp will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, 15-17 February.

17 year old Charlisse Leger-Walker, who at 16 became the youngest Tall Fern at last year's Commonwealth Games, says the invitation is a great privilege and one she’s looking forward to. 

"I expect to be challenged by coaches who have experience at a high level and maybe even on an international stage.  This opportunity is very exciting because it will allow me to learn and grow as a player and it will also enable me to identify what I will need to work on to add to my skill-set. 

"Plus, it is also around the NBA All Stars game, so I might get to watch some of that!”

Run in partnership with the NBA and FIBA, there have been 56 BWB camps in 28 countries on six continents since 2001.

53 BWB alumni have been drafted into the NBA.  The most recent NBA Draft in 2018 saw two former BWB global participants selected in the top 11 picks.

The Ngāti Porou, Whānau-ā-Apanui and Te Whakatohea descendant has been on the radar of US-based scouts and coaches since she was 15.  Her mother Leanne is a former Tall Fern and sister Krystal, currently at college in Northern Colorado, also plays for the team.

Leger-Walker had a busy 2018.  In addition to the Commonwealth Games in Australia, she also played at the U17 Asian Championship in India and went to Belarus for the U17 World Championships as well.

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Junior Tall Black and Westlake Boys’ High School student Sam Mennenga has also been called up.

Mennenga was selected to be a part of the Junior Tall Blacks in the 2018 Asia championships in Thailand, where the team placed second and qualified for the FIBA World Championships, which will be held in Greece July 2019.

The 17-year-old says this camp is a big deal due to the opportunity to play against the best high school players in the world.

“I am excited about the camp because I will be able to meet some NBA players and attend the NBA All-Star Game.  I am also excited to learn from the coaches to help improve my game and get me to the next level.

“My goal in basketball is to eventually make it to the NBA.  To complete this goal I hope to go to America next year on a scholarship and play college basketball,” says Mennenga.

The Kiwi pair are two of 63 boys and girls players from 31 countries and regions who will attend the camp.

This is the fifth BWB Global Camp, where players are selected ‘based on their outstanding basketball skills and leadership abilities’. While a small selection of Kiwis are often invited to attend the BWB Asia Camp each year, through a Basketball New Zealand and FIBA talent identification process, the BWB Global Camp is an even tougher club to be in.

All participants will take part in basketball positional development, strength and conditioning, life skills sessions, and games and competitions during the day, followed by visits to NBA All Star events in the evening.  NBA and FIBA players and coaches will coach the participants of the camp. 

The BWB Global Camp will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, 15-17 February.

*Additional reporting by Basketball New Zealand