A new era in developing Hawke’s Bay basketball talent looms with the appointment of homegrown legend Everard Bartlett as coach of the Taylor Hawks in the Sal’s NBL.
Almost 37 years old, Bartlett grew up in Hawke’s Bay, a Flaxmere-Bridge Pā boy-done-good who first played for the Hawks in 2005. He is a survivor of the Hawks’ only grand final win in 2006, and is in for the long game - another championship, with players born, bred and basketballed in Hawke’s Bay.
“Take a look at a photo of that year,” he said, as his appointment was confirmed on Monday by teammate and new Hawks general manager Jarrod Kenny and Hawks chairman Keith Price.
“That photo will have not only six to seven players from Hawke’s Bay, but four or five on the team on court, every week,” he said.
Among them was another homegrown great, Paul Henare, who then coached the side for two seasons, in 2011/2012, before taking charge at the New Zealand Breakers and the Tall Blacks.
Bartlett said Hawke’s Bay had been missing the development of their own products for some years, and he made the point during his employment interviews that the region has the talent and must provide pathways in both playing and coaching.
Like most ball players at semi-professional and professional levels, he’s had plenty of experience working with players through schools and academy projects, and hopes that he will be able to help provide the pathway for some of them to return and play at least part of their careers in Hawks singlets.
That talent is highlighted by players spreading their wings in 2022 such as Ezrah Eagle, now at Dilworth School in Auckland to enhance his basketball career as a springboard to a US college scholarship, and Kahu Treacher, already in the US.
Bartlett has had NBL stints with the Auckland Pirates, the Southland Sharks and the Franklin Bulls, as well as the Breakers and other Australian NBL sides, the Perth Wildcats and the Adelaide 36ers, and others in Australia and Iceland, but essentially he remains a Hawk - a year-round one, with time to put into the developing players in the off-season in the hope they’ll be in the team in the seasons to come.
“I’m in for the long game,” he said. “I care about growing this region. It’s where I am from. I’m not going anywhere.”
He was a regular with the New Zealand Tall Blacks between 2012 and 2016, playing at the 2012 Fiba World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, 2013 Fiba Oceania Championship, 2014 Fiba World Cup, 2015 Fiba Oceania Championship, and 2016 Fiba World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
In a unique move, Australian coach Jacob Chance - who was, in early 2021, appointed coach in a term severely hit by the constraints of pandemic lockdowns and border controls - will take on a role of coaching consultant, mentoring Bartlett into his new career.
The opportunity came about as a result of the departure of coach and general manager Mick Downer to take up an appointment in the Australian NBL.
Appointed as a replacement CEO, Kenny immediately set about finding a coach for 2023, and says while few will have been aware of the appointment of Bartlett, he has already been involved in moves to fill the player roster for the new season, which the Hawks start with an away game against Franklin Bulls on April 5.
Kenny and Price said it was a great move to have Bartlett at the front, with local loyalty recognised and with the support of teammates, who made him Players Choice Player of the Year in 2022.