Basketball is booming in the Bay of Plenty at unprecedented rates.

While NBA star Steven Adams, who grew up in Rotorua, is generating massive interest in the sport he is just one piece in the puzzle.

"I think he has definitely contributed with the profile of the sport but there are a lot of factors that have contributed to the growth of the sport in New Zealand," Tauranga City Basketball general manager Mark Rodgers said.

"The profile that the NBA has is definitely a big part of it, and Steven being a Kiwi adds to that. You can walk down the street and see people with NBA singlets of every description.


"There's also the profile of the Breakers obviously and the work they do has an impact. The work we do locally and the fact we have great facilities all contribute.

"Locally, nationally and internationally the sport is booming. It is gender neutral so boys and girls can both play up to the age of 65 and now with the Walking Basketball we have got a new version that will allow people to play who can't handle the impact of running and jumping."

Walking basketball began in the UK in 2013 and Tauranga is the first association in New Zealand to trial it here.

Walking Basketball is exactly as the name implies, with the running and jumping aspects of the traditional game removed.

"We picked it up from England and it is now running in Australia as well. It targets those people who want to maintain playing the game or who want to give the game a go without running and jumping," Rogers said.

"It caters for a part of the community that is not into the 5x5 run up and down stuff. We are pretty excited about it. If we get the interest we think we will then we will look at kicking off a Walking Basketball league next year."

Walking Basketball had its first trial yesterday and will continue every Monday this month at the QEII Youth Centre from 9.30 to 10.30am.

At the other end of the physical exuberance scale, Rogers says they have 250 kids enrolled in their development programme, which is higher than ever before.

The programme covers a wide area with 20 kids travelling from Waihi to attend and others from Whakatane and Te Awamutu.

The latest Western Bay players to make the New Zealand under-17 trials all came through the Tauranga City Basketball development programme.

Briarley Rogers (Aquinas College), Shalom Broughton (Mount Maunganui College) and Jacob Forward (Tauranga Boys' College) have been to the first phase of trials and have been selected to go through to the national trial squad in December.

"They are all 15 and all in line for New Zealand under-17 next year and if they get picked for that they will go to the Asian qualifying for the world champs," Rogers said.

"Flowing from the selection of these players, we have now got support from Bay SportsMed for a scholarship for the elite players to help support them with the cost of competing at that level.

"It is awesome that Bay SportsMed and Pat Wigley in particular have come on board to support those players."