Nate Wilson is not quite the youngest member of the Huskies team but he is certainly the least experienced on the basketball court.
Four years ago he had never played an organised game of basketball preferring to play soccer and indoor netball. Wilson was an outstanding indoor netball representative player but his priorities started to shift when a family member advised him to give basketball a try.
“My Uncle Aaron Ah-Chee was a decent player at Kelston and MAGS when they were in the Prems and he was the one who encouraged me to play basketball,” said Wilson.
Initially Wilson played social basketball with his mates at Waitakere College.
From there he made the move to Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) and under the keen eye of Head Coach Daryl Cartwright, Wilson progressed from an Open Grade rookie in 2017 to a Tournament Team selection at the 2019 Secondary Schools Nationals.
MAGS finished a highly creditable third at Nationals. In addition to leading the MAGS scoring in Palmerston North averaging 16.4 points per game the quietly spoken Wilson put together eye-catching numbers in his senior year season at MAGS averaging 15.6 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
In addition Wilson attended his first age-group Nationals in 2019 helping Auckland to runners-up spot at the Aon U19 National Championships
The 202cm forward shows real athleticism and his ability to elevate and impose a defensive presence around the rim influenced Huskies GM Matt Lacey to draft the 19-year old.
“I have seen a lot of Nate in secondary schools and representative basketball in the last couple of years and his development has been prolific.
“His ability to impact the game in a variety of ways, particularly without the ball, makes him a hugely valuable asset.
“He is a willing learner and his team first attitude is a tribute to his character and the influence of his family.
Wilson acknowledges the support and encouragement he gets from his whanau.
“I have a lot of support from family and whanau. As soon as they heard I had made the team they were buying merchandise and re-posting the announcement. They were building me up and I was thinking hold on until our first game, I might not get any minutes – wait until I get on and then you can out a post-up!”
It’s easy to guess who Wilson’s number one fan is.
“It’s my mum,” confirmed Wilson. “She’s bought about 30 tickets already.”
Wilson is unsure if he want’s to try and get a basketball scholarship in the USA or focus on an NBL career but right now he is enjoying being a rookie on the Huskies team.
“It’s nice to have other younger players, who I know, in the extended squad who are still developing like me.
“The older dudes are really helping me shape my game, giving me information to help me improve. I’m really hesitant about shooting the ball but I’m learning to take it hard to the hoop every time and shooting with confidence when I’m open.
“It’s a bit of a shock coming out of high school and competing against big guys like Tohi (Smith-Milner). Last year I think Sam Mennenga was the biggest guy so triple that for the NBL and you can see why I’m spending a lot of time on the floor,” he said with a smile.
In 2019 Wilson gained a bronze medal at Secondary Schools Nationals and won silver at Under 19 Nationals. A gold in the 2020 Sal’s NBL would complete the set.
The first Auckland Huskies game is on Tuesday June 23 when we take on the Canterbury Rams at Trusts Arena, tip-off 7.30pm.