Cantabrian Angus McWilliam is the latest young Kiwi to accept an NCAA Division 1 basketball scholarship, having signed his papers this morning to play for Texas Christian University (TCU) in 2018.
At TCU McWilliam will play under Steven Adams’ former college coach Jamie Dixon who is well known in New Zealand basketball circles. He coached the USA Under-19 team to a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Auckland in 2009, and also played in the New Zealand NBL for the Bay Hawkes in 1989 and 1990.
Dixon was in the country earlier in the year looking at potential recruits for the TCU Horned Frogs that play in the Big 12 Conference. In addition, Assistant Coach David Patrick attended the 2017 Schick Championships (Secondary Schools Nationals) in Palmerston North to view McWilliam in action for his Middleton Grange High School team, having previously watched him playing for the Mainland Eagles Academy in Las Vegas last December. Patrick is well-known as a top scout, having influenced the likes of NBA stars Ben Simmons, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.
Mcwilliam, who will celebrate his 18th birthday next week, will major in Combined Sciences with the goal of studying towards a Veterinary Science degree.
McWilliam has played his school basketball for coach Tim Bennetts at Middleton Grange and earlier in the year played for the Junior Tall Blacks at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo.
“Playing at the U19 Basketball World Cup in Cairo this year was something else,” said McWilliam.
“Being around that calibre of coaching staff and players was awesome to say the least. Playing alongside the boys in the Black and White singlet has helped me to take leaps and bounds in not only basketball but also life in general he added.”
Four members of that squad are currently in the USA at Division 1 colleges. Tobias Cameron (Abilene Christian), Isaac Letoa (Dartmouth College) and Sam Waardenburg (Miami) are in their Freshman seasons and Tai Wynyard is in his second year at the University of Kentucky. In addition Quinn Clinton and Dan Fotu have committed to St Mary’s College, California.
The Middleton Grange School’ Deputy Head Boy is also a product of the Canterbury Basketball Association, and the Mainland Eagles Academy under the watchful eye of former Tall Black Mark Dickel.
“This signing supports why the Mainland Eagles Academy was set up by the Canterbury Rams in the first place. It aims to provide high performance training and US college guidance and placement to up and coming players,” stated Mainland Eagles Academy and Canterbury Rams head coach Dickel.
“We are excited for Angus as he has put in a whole lot of work to get to this point and will do the Mainland Eagles Academy proud,” added Dickel.
McWilliam says he is delighted to be heading to TCU.
“I chose Texas Christian University because of its tight-knit family community. Being a comparatively small private university, there is a relationship among students and staff that is quite different and extremely welcoming. Also, having aspirations to become a Vet for as long as I can remember, TCU offers a pathway on which I can pursue Veterinary Science while playing at the highest level of collegiate sports for one of the most elite coaching staff in the NCAA - it was in essence, a perfect fit for me.”
Finally McWilliam wanted to thank those that have helped him to achieve his ambition of playing college basketball in the USA.
“There are simply too many people to thank as the number of people who have encouraged, supported and had my back along the way is truly incredible.
“Just a few examples are my coaches: Tim Bennetts and Mark Dickel, the whole Gators community and Mainland Eagles Academy and of course my entire family – especially my first-class parents.
“Every single person has dedicated their time, invested in my development and always shown love and compassion in whatever deed they have done to better my future.
“The road to a US college is not by any means an easy or forgiving one, but with the help of people like I have mentioned and a determination to succeed that is greater than your fear of failure, it is definitely open to anyone who has similar aspirations,” said McWilliam.
Other players to sign this week include Dan Fotu and Quinn Clinton tomorrow, and James Moors on the 13th of November.
CLICK HERE to buy tickets to the Tall Blacks vs Korea on 23 November at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington.