Tafara Gapare (Scots) hitting new heights on basketball court
The man responsible for discovering Steven Adams has his eye on the next potential Kiwi NBA star.
Kenny McFadden is an American former professional basketball player who currently works in coaching and development in Wellington.
He was the man who picked a young Steven Adams out of the crowd and helped mould him into the country’s first NBA superstar, and he believes his latest prodigy has the chance to be even better.
“There is a lot of talent in New Zealand basketball right now, but not since Steve have I seen a hotter prospect than this kid, Tafara Gapare,” McFadden said.
Gapare, 16, starred in last year’s under 15’s Oceania Championships for New Zealand and was the inaugural winner of the Steven Adams scholarship, from Scots College, in 2014.
He is currently listed at 2.03m tall, the same height as All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock, “but is probably a bit bigger than that now”, and plays mostly at the guard spot, McFadden said.
Gapare had great speed and ball skills for his size, and his measurables were the stuff American college scouts dream of, he said.
“At the same age, I’d probably say he is a better prospect than Steve was.
“Skill wise he is a lot further along than Steve, but in saying that Steve played at the five [centre], so wasn’t asked to do as much with the ball as Tafara is.”
McFadden has helped about 72 Kiwi basketballers, like Adams, gain scholarships in the USA and scouts were already reaching out to Gapare.
“The number one thing Tafara and Steve have in common however is their work ethic, and that’s something I am a huge believer in,” McFadden said.
“They are good at what they do because of how hard they work and that’s the number one thing I feel holding New Zealand basketball back in some respects, is guys aren’t always willing to commit to a level that is required to compete in places like America.”
The basketball savant, who Adams still calls “Coach” to this day, takes groups of talented Kiwi basketball players up to Las Vegas each year to play and workout in front of NCAA college scouts.
He believes there are two, “possibly three”, players who are college ready and potentially NBA quality currently playing in New Zealand.
“The talent is here, and Tafara is obviously the top of that pile right now. But the next Steven Adams isn’t far away, we just need to develop a system where people are willing to truly put in the work and that’s my main focus.”
McFadden is also hopeful Adams is selected for the upcoming NBA all-stars match, and said it would be “huge” for New Zealand basketball and an inspiration for the next generation, like Gapare.
“Steve is already showing these young guys that there is a pathway. I know the personal accolades like an all-star birth won’t mean much to him because he is such a team guy, but back home, it will be huge.”