The basketball world is St Peter's teenage sensation Charlisse Leger-Walker's oyster.

The 17-year-old made her New Zealand debut for the Tall Ferns at last year's Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, making an impact, especially in the Jamaica game in pool play and in the bronze medal game against Canada.

Leger-Walker became the youngest player to represent the Tall Ferns and the third member of her family to represent New Zealand at senior level following sister Krystal and mother Leanne.

"I was very honoured and proud when I found out I made the Tall Ferns team," she told the Waipa Post . "It is such a privilege to be able to train with the best our country has to offer and it is even better to be able to play alongside them.


"It allows me to be able to improve all aspects of my game and learn how professional athletes train, compete and live.

"They all have so much experience and so much advice that I can benefit from, especially for the next couple of months where I will be making some big decisions about what's next for me with basketball and college."

Charlisse Leger-Walker in possession for New Zealand against Australia in the FIBA U18 Asia championships in Bengaluru, India in October, 2018. Photo / FIBA Basketball
Charlisse Leger-Walker in possession for New Zealand against Australia in the FIBA U18 Asia championships in Bengaluru, India in October, 2018. Photo / FIBA Basketball

Being the youngest member of the team is not an entirely strange scenario for the Kiwi playmaker.

"Since I was about 11, filling in for my sisters' teams, I have played with older players so that's the way I have been brought up. I think it has also worked well that I have played for the Junior Tall Ferns at a young age, so it makes the transition to this team so much easier. Playing up in the age-groups has really benefited my game skills and my basketball IQ."

Balancing her school studies and playing international basketball presents a challenge that Leger-Walker is confident she can handle.

"My teachers are really excited for me and we have been working together to ensure I don't miss out on any credits. I'm really busy, but it's pretty cool," she added.

Leger-Walker is now firmly entrenched in the national team, having just returned home with the Tall Ferns squad after training in Japan and attending the William Jones Cup in Taiwan - the same tournament her mother attended with the New Zealand team 20 years ago.

The Tall Ferns won all games quite convincingly until they met Japan in the final. Japan shot exceptionally well and won gold, with New Zealand having to be content with silver.
The team had six debutantes as part of an extended squad, building up to the Olympic qualification series later in the year.


Earlier this year Leger-Walker was the only New Zealand girl selected for the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Leger-Walker was among the top 63 boys and girls from 31 countries and regions who attended the fifth BWB Global Camp where players are selected "based on their outstanding basketball skills and leadership abilities".

While a small selection of Kiwis are often invited to attend the BWB Asia Camp each year, through a Basketball New Zealand and FIBA talent identification process, the BWB Global Camp is an even tougher club to be in.

In April, the well travelled Leger-Walker was in Greece with the St Peter's senior prem girls' basketball team at the ISF World championships (they earned a place after winning the secondary school nationals last year). The team stunned finishing fifth and Leger-Walker was named in the World All Star 5.

In June, she went to Mongolia with the New Zealand Under 18 3x3 team to contest the World Championships. Wins were posted against Japan, China, Russia, Poland and the Netherlands enroute to winning silver after losing to a tough USA, the only team they lost to all tournament.

Leger-Walker was named in the World All-Star 3.

It was the first time any female team from New Zealand has won a medal at a FIBA-sanctioned World tournament.

Life in the fast lane is likely to continue shortly with Leger-Walker "maybe" off to the next series in Asia with the Tall Ferns - the team is still to be named.

Her St Peter's teammate Ella Bradley also went to Greece with the school team. She has played with Leger-Walker in previous age group national rep teams - the most recent being the U19 team in India last year. Bradley is off to the Asia Cup 3x3 tournament in Malaysia from August 21-23.

"I'm excited to play 3x3 at an international level and to be able to represent my country," said Bradley.

Ella Bradley about to score for New Zealand in the Under 17 World Championship game against Spain. Photo / Supplied
Ella Bradley about to score for New Zealand in the Under 17 World Championship game against Spain. Photo / Supplied

"I haven't played a lot of 3x3 but am excited to have the chance to learn more with coach Justine Reed. This can help my future in basketball getting exposure to college coaches and playing against international competition.

"We are in the same pool as Turkmenistan. Other teams we are likely to compete against include Japan, China, Russia, and the Netherlands."

As for her St Peter's premier basketball team, Bradley said the players are lucky to be coached by Leanne Walker.

"St Peter's is a dynamic, hardworking team that has an amazing culture on and off the court which I have been lucky to be apart of for the past five years."

Leanne Walker, Charlisse's mother, has a wealth of experience from playing and captaining the Tall Ferns at two Olympics games. With her at the helm, the St Peter's premier girls' team has won three out of four of the last Secondary School national championships.

The girls appreciate the work that their management team of Anthony Corban and Brent Sanders have given in the past, as well as crediting their families for the tremendous support they provide.

"One of the biggest keys that gives our team a little edge is our culture," said Leger-Walker. "We always talk about how we are more than just a team - we are a family who put the team before any individuals," said Charlisse Leger-Walker.

"All the girls know that in order to succeed we have to have each other's back both on and off the court. It is so evident that we are all great friends and can get along so well with each other."