William Raisbeck has wanted to play basketball in the United States since taking up the game at age 10 to make friends at a new school.

That burning ambition has kept him focused since then as he forged his own path in the game with Tauranga City Basketball and Otumoetai College.

Now all those years of planning and hard work have paid off for the 19-year-old point guard after he was offered a three-year sporting scholarship to Notre Dame College in Cleveland, Ohio. He will study a bachelor's degree in business, majoring in sports and health management.

Raisbeck begins his freshman year in August and is "super excited but equally as terrified" about what lies ahead.

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"At the same time I am humbled to know that my nine and a half years of working towards this dream are finally paying off and coming to fruition. A basketball scholarship to the States has always been the dream of mine and the goal I have been working towards for all that time.

"So to have it finally happen is a huge relief."

Raisbeck began his basketball journey when he shifted to a new primary school in Auckland.

"We had just moved there and I had no friends. My classroom teacher was the school's basketball coach and he handed me the ball one lunchtime and said 'here you go, go make some friends' and I fell in love with it from there.

"From that point on I basically decided this is what I want to do, to play basketball at the highest level."

Tauranga basketballer William Raisbeck is off to study in Cleveland, Ohio later this year. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga basketballer William Raisbeck is off to study in Cleveland, Ohio later this year. Photo / George Novak

His career really took off when he moved to Tauranga in 2011. He has played all the age group levels for Tauranga City Basketball and was part of the 2017 Marist team that won the Premier adult competition.

During that time Raisbeck made two New Zealand age group development squads at under-14 and under-16 level which gave him a taste of international competition in Australia.

Despite his success, Raisbeck has never forgotten where his game evolved. Giving back to Otumoetai College basketball is dear to his heart. He has coached three junior teams, referees whenever he can and helps out with the statistical side of the game and managing score benches.

"I just want to be as big a part of Otumoetai College as I can and make this the best possible place it could be for basketball," Raisbeck says.

Sporting talent is just one part of the equation for the hundreds of young New Zealanders who every year apply to US colleges for the sought-after scholarships in sports such as basketball, tennis, volleyball and athletics.

Academic performance is fundamental to gaining and keeping a sporting scholarship. Students have to pass the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), a standardised test widely used for college admission in the United States.

"I have always been a studier and the advanced classes at [Otumoetai] were always super helpful. When the time came to be serious about getting into the States I spent every lunchtime for Year 13 and Saturday mornings studying for my SATs," Raisbeck says.

"I ended up in the 92nd percentile for that, top 8 per cent internationally, so my grades and the fact I can play basketball is why Notre Dame offered me a scholarship."