Basketball: Tall Blacks step into national coaching ranks

Some of the best Tall Blacks from the past decade have been promoted to guide national age-group teams next year and Basketball New Zealand hope they will be groomed for higher honours in future years.

While Breakers assistant Dean Vickerman retains his New Zealand universities role from last year and Anthony Corban the 3x3 reins, the other men's head coaching positions are all filled by recent Tall Blacks - Pero Cameron (under-20), Judd Flavell (under-18), Paul Henare (under-17) and Mike Fitchett (under-16).

"It's great to be able to introduce former players who know what it takes to achieve at all levels of the game, but particularly on the international stage," BBNZ chief executive Iain Potter said.

"The Tall Blacks' success over the past 10 years has been built on innovative coaching and intelligent players, and now those players are bringing that experience into coaching careers.

"We expect they will be contenders for the Tall Blacks coaching position over the next decade and provide a real link between that team and its feeder programme. They can really help our junior teams reach the next level at a pivotal time."

Indications are, for the first time, that New Zealand will face qualification for the under-17 world championships through Asia, greatly enhancing their chances of progressing after decades of frustration against the powerful Australians.

"If this happens, we will never have a better opportunity to qualify for the world junior championships in our own right," Potter said.

Between them, Vickerman, Cameron and Flavell have won the last four National Basketball League championships and Henare has coached Hawkes Bay to the last two semifinals and to the 2011 final.

Fitchett played much of his NBL and international career as point guard under Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic, essentially a mentoring relationship.

Until now, national coaches have usually come through representative tournaments and development camps.

"Those are still very important pathways for our coaches," Potter said. "We believe those association coaches have a lot to offer our junior programme and they'll get their chance as assistants with the national teams."

The women's appointments still reflect that traditional route but BBNZ hope to attract more former Tall Ferns into the coaching ranks after retirement.

Head coaching positions for 2013:

Men

Universities - Dean Vickerman

U20 - Pero Cameron

U18 - Judd Flavell

U17 - Paul Henare

U16 - Mike Fitchett

Women

Universities - Tania Hunter

U20 - Sean Fuller

U18 - Brent Matehaere

U17 - Aik Ho

U16 - James McGilvary

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