Two weeks ago, the Auckland Huskies  selected 18 year-old Taine Murray as our fourth pick in the 2020 Sal’s NBL Showdown.

The Rosmini College year 13 student has plenty of basketball highlights to look back on over the last 12 months but this opportunity came out of the blue.

“It wasn’t on the radar as my focus was on playing my last year at Rosmini plus representative basketball for Harbour and the Junior Tall Blacks,” said Murray.

However the Covid-19 pandemic threw most of those plans out of the window and Murray is now able to work the six-week NBL commitment around his school work.

“It will be a juggle but I’m lucky that Rosmini support me a lot and I’m very grateful for what they provide for me.

“I’m really excited as it provides a unique opportunity, not just for myself, but all the other players who have committed to the NBL.”

Murray is enjoying the season so far and recognises it provides him with a valuable learning environment.

“Learning off the older guys who have the experience but also the physicality, coming up against bigger bodies will be a major change. I think I’m also having to learn quickly,” he admits.

Murray is also thrilled to be working with the coaching team that the Huskies have established.

“I haven’t played on a team that Kevin has coached, I’ve only done individual workouts with him. It’s going to be great to learn off him in this environment. He has massive experience as a player and now as a coach so I’m really excited.

“Also working with Aaron and Lindsay (assistant coaches Aaron Young & Lindsay Tait), who I know from the national team, will be helpful.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Huskies Head Coach Kevin Braswell believes the younger players like Taine are being presented with a great learning opportunity during the NBL season.

“Taine is likely heading to college in the USA in the future so he can pick Izayah’s (Le’afa)  brain. Izayah has just returned from an outstanding four year college career at Sacramento State University so he can pick his brain during practice, after practice, and in the hotel – they are going to be around each other for 6 weeks.

“Izayah will also take a lot of pressure off Taine. I’m going to need Taine to deliver every night, and score. He’s not a guy we are bringing off the bench or thinking he’s going to play five or ten minutes, he’s a guy who will probably play 25 minutes a night.

“We want him to capitalize on this opportunity. He’s a kid who has worked so hard to get to the level he is at now and I believe the sky ‘s the limit for him. I’ve been working with him for six or seven years.”

It’s likely that Murray will take the step-up from high school to senior basketball in his stride. After all ten months ago he was called on to take the gigantic leap onto the senior international stage.

Last August the 196cm wing was called into the Tall Blacks training squad. After impressing during the Selection Camp Murray was chosen for the tour of Japan and Australia eventually making his debut in Sydney, against Canada, at just 17 years of age.

Tall Blacks head coach at the time Paul Henare had this to say about his selection.

“Taine has impressed us all these past few days and quite simply played his way into the 14. He has a composure beyond his years and is going to develop into a very good player, and has already shown that he feels at home at this level.”

Murray has enjoyed plenty of success during the last two or three years. He has won a couple of National Secondary Schools winners medals with Rosmini, an U19 National Championship gold with North Harbour and been presented with his Tall Blacks singlet – a Sal’s NBL title with the Huskies would be a nice addition to the trophy cabinet.

“I’ll finally get to coach him and push him on the things  we have been working on so it’s going to be a great opportunity for both of us,” concluded Braswell.

The Auckland Huskies next game is on Sunday July 5th when we take on the Nelson Giants at Trusts Arena, tip-off 5.30pm.