Tall Ferns basketball star Kalani Purcell has been compared to two of basketball's greatest names - Larry Bird and LeBron James - by a very good judge.

Purcell, who is currently playing for Brigham Young University in the US, is New Zealand's brightest female basketball talent and is almost certain to be selected in next year's WNBA draft.

BYU coach Jeff Judkins played alongside Bird during his glory years at the Boston Celtics and he believes Purcell has the same 'sixth sense' for rebounds that his legendary teammate had.

Judkins told ESPN that recruiting the Auckland-born forward was a huge priority.


"I spent more time on that kid than with any recruit in my life," Judkins said. "It paid off."

One key aspect of her game that he would like to see develop is a ruthlessness or selfishness to score. Purcell thinks first about creating for others rather than taking the shot herself.

"It just makes me happy when that happens," Purcell said. "I do enjoy scoring and the feeling of beating my man, but I think most times, when I'm on the court, my thought is, 'Who can I make shine right now?'"

Judkins points her to Cleveland Cavaliers star James, who was criticized at times for being too unselfish.

"See what he does," Judkins said. "That's you."