The basketball scholarships continue for young Kiwis as another signs to Division 1 in the U.S.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has just signed Akiene Tera Reed on a full ride scholarship. Reed has spent her senior years of secondary school in the United States studying and playing basketball, which is an early departure when most U.S. bound players tend to stay in New Zealand until they finish secondary school. Reed left Westlake Girls High School and her family home on Aucklands North Shore mid-way through Year 10, with a goal of being seen by top basketball colleges and playing scholarship ball abroad. Reed says she found the opportunity through playing and studying at Life Center Academy, a private high school in New Jersey.

"I moved to the States to maximise exposure. The high school I attended and the teams I played for were all focused on maximising exposure. I played in a number of tournaments where there would be up to 200 coaches watching my games. My mother also had a number of contacts that she used to get me exposure," says Reed.

"I was considering other colleges as this is a very important decision and each of them had something different to offer. It was a very difficult choice as I had a number of great offers from teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 10, Pac 12, Big East, A10 and the West Coast Conference.

"I picked VCU because its where I felt most comfortable. I had developed a really good relationship with Coach OBoyle and she has a vision for the team that I want to be a part of. The A10 is a conference where I feel I could be successful and I have the chance to be playing immediately. It also helped that VCU has an exceptional basketball facility and because they do not have a football programme, the womens basketball programme has a lot of resources."

The 18 year old has spent most of her life being around basketball. Reed has played for nearly every age-group representative team for Harbour Basketball before heading to the U.S.

"I have been around basketball from the time I was born. My mother resumed playing for Waikato when I was four months old and would take me to all her trainings. I spent most of my childhood on the bench and in team huddles.

"Mum has been my inspiration. She played Division 1 for University of San Diego and has coached at an international level for New Zealand, and knows what it takes to get there. My dad is my biggest supporter and provides the balance. I also owe a lot to all the coaches that have mentored me and who have coached me over the years in all the teams that I have been a part of because each one has helped to mould me as a player. I have been very fortunate to have had some very knowledgeable and passionate coaches through my involvement in the Harbour rep programme, National age group programme, New Zealand and US high school programmes, and the AAU programme," says Reed.

The 62" Wing says shes looking forward to the whole college experience as a student-athlete and will be living in her own room within a quad share apartment that houses other team members. She plans to study Business while also focusing on her future as a basketballer.

"My aspiration is to be the best player I can be and play pro. And Im definitely hoping that one day I can be a Tall Fern."

Reed will start at VCU next June with the team scheduled to travel to South Africa in August 2017.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand