Junior Tall Black and Breakers development player Sam Waardenburg has officially committed his future to the University of Miami, signing on the dotted line on a full scholarship that will allow him to continue to develop his basketball career, and work on his studies for life beyond basketball.
It has been a busy year for the Rangitoto College student, with many trips overseas with a variety of Basketball New Zealand teams, private camp invites and most recently his trip to the States when he visited a number of Universities before deciding on Miami.
The paperwork was signed at home in recent days, with the support of his parents Eric and Norny. 17 year old Waardenburg is delighted that another step has been completed, one that was not without a level of stress for him and his family.
"It is a great feeling to finally have it all done, it was a lot of paperwork to go over with the family but that stage is complete now, it is all done and it feels great.
"Without my family I wouldn't be able to do this, dad especially. He is always on the computer checking out all the options and the paperwork and the hoops that we have to jump through and the communication with Miami. Mum has been a big support as well, they have just been awesome."
Waardenburg has had no second thoughts about his choice of University either, saying Miami is the place for him to continue his career and his studies.
"When I turned up in Miami it felt like family, like a home away from home. The climate is nice and it is a great campus, everything about it and the basketball programme was great. My focus is just to get better every day, I will get in the gym, learn off the coaches and do all I can to help the programme and get better myself."
Waardenburg will leave for Miami on December 28, after he enjoys a final festive season with family and friends.
"I wanted to finish with a Christmas with my family, there are a few cousins coming over from London so it will be a great final few days in New Zealand before I go for what promises to be a great adventure, I can't wait."
Before then, Waardenburg will be focused on finishing his studies at Rangitoto College, working out as a development player with the SKYCITY Breakers and earning selection for the Junior Tall Blacks for the Oceania Championships in Fiji in December.
Of immediate focus to Waardenburg though is his continued development with the SKYCITY Breakers, and that includes being a part of game night with the team at home this Saturday night at Vector Arena, hosting the Adelaide 36ers, tip off at 7.30pm.
"I soak up as much as I can every game night, it is all a great learning experience to see how the players prepare and take on each challenge. Often we (he and the other development players) get the chance to work out on the main court before the game, but then our role is to do whatever we can from the bench to keep the boys motivated and on track for a win, as well as watch and learn from every play."