Basketball: Prewster's background no hurdle

By Anendra Singh


At first glance he comes across as an American import, albeit a subdued one, but Dion Prewster's appearance tells a lie.

"I'm a Kiwi and mum's a [Western] Samoan so I've kept my feet on the ground and I'm humble," said the 23-year-old basketballer as the HBS Bank Hawks' bus approached the outskirts of Wellington City last night.

Despite mother Ana Hunt's roots in the second main island of Savaii and father Norvell Prewster hailing from Long Beach, California, the guard doesn't fit the typical mould of someone with a rugby or basketball pedigree.

"No one's got a sporting background in my family. They are all just regular human beings," he said before today's 7pm tip off against the Wellington Saints in round eight of the Bartercard National Basketball League at the TSB Arena in the capital.

The Pero Cameron-coached Wellington Saints will be the favourites not based purely on their record to date this season but on the foundation of trouncing the Hawks 102-67 in Napier on Queen's Birthday Monday, June 3.

However, Cameron and point guard Lindsay Tait will be mindful of the Tab Baldwin-coached Hawks' resurgence in inflicting the first home defeat on the Nelson Giants last Saturday at Trafalgar Centre.

"That win was really to feel good about ourselves but that game's dead and gone for us now," said Prewster as the same Paora Winitana-led Hawks line-up will take on the Saints without the services of Perth Wildcat shooting guard Everard Bartlett, who is still nursing an ankle injury.

Born in Santa Ana, California, Prewster arrived in the capital city in 1997 as a 7-year-old with his mother, whose family live in Wellington.

"All my aunties, uncles and cousins will be there so it'll be nice to try to win and perform well tomorrow night [tonight]."

Having lost contact with his father since emigrating to New Zealand, the bearded one found a role model in basketball coach Kenny McFaden.

"Hopefully I'll meet him some day but there's not much to say now as I'm 23 and not a child any more.

"We're a tight team, Mum and I, so our relationship is very special," said the only child.

He does know his father was a university graduate and his paternal grandfather in the US was "quite tall".

"My dad was a bright spark so I've got the genes but not the knowledge," he said, after winning a full three-year scholarship to Stephen F Austin University in Texas but returning somewhat disillusioned with basketball.

"I had a bad college experience where I was promised a lot of things but it didn't happen," he said of playing positions in the college team and minutes that didn't eventuate.

Like his Tall Black ambitions, Prewster harbours hopes of graduating with a degree in teaching.

"I'll be working towards it after the season or maybe when university starts early next year," says the former Junior Tall Black captain who spearheaded the campaign at the 2009 World Championship in Auckland but couldn't accept an invitation to the New Zealand men's trials one season later because of a family crisis.

"As of right now I'm just focusing on the Hawks but at some point in my life I'd like that [to be a Tall Black]."

Not having had a sporting background, it begs the question why Prewster chose the game of the three-quarter brigade when he could easily be throwing a rugby ball around?

"I guess it was by chance. I sort of loved basketball from the start. The simple fact is I just enjoyed it the very first time I played it.

"I kind of revolved around it a lot so I eventually gravitated towards it and naturally fell for it."

In that same vein, he fell for the Samoan culture in Wellington, including an Island appetite.

"I love my food but I'm open to anything that tastes good."

Reflecting on tonight's game, Prewster said it was a no-brainer that Baldwin had labelled the Saints "the best team in the league" on the foundation of Tait as the best point guard in the NBL, Corey Webster as the best shooting guard and their experience in Dillon Boucher and Cameron.

Loving Baldwin's tutelage, he also hopes to be back next year for some unfinished business.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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