Kenny Lessons – Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones coaching Scots on US Break
Story courtesy of College Sport Media
When Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones was at St Patrick’s College, Wellington in 2018 he helped the Premier Basketball team finish second at the National Championships, their best performance since winning the title in 2008.
He was the dominant scorer in the Pohlen Cup scoring 24 points in the final against Rongotai College and 40 in the semi-final against Scots College – the team he’s now coaching.
“My friend Mathew Phillip from the New Zealand Basketball Academy got offered the job. He said he’d only take the job if I came in and helped. When Kenny McFadden died they didn’t have anyone to step in,” Aniwaniwa explained.
“I’m doing this for Kenny. I’m there to help them implement his systems. He wasn’t an overly technical coach but his approach is a bit different. I’ve had it all my life, the boys know a lot of it already, but I’m there to help them maintain what they’ve built.”
Kenny McFadden tragically passed on March 24, aged 61. In 2018 Aniwaniwa’s dad Aaron donated his kidney to the basketball legend. Aniwaniwa was one of Kenny’s many prodigies. He is on scholarship at Hawaii Hilo University and was named Pacific West Conference Newcomer of the Year in 2021.
“I’m back until August. It’ll be nice to relax at home while giving a little back to Kenny. He sacrificed so much for so many. I thought I might get a bit of stick from Town boys for assisting Scots but the basketball community is bigger than that and really respects Kenny.”
On Sunday an online auction will be held to help fundraise towards costs covering McFadden’s funeral. Among the items for sale are the net (framed) in which he hit his winning three-pointer in the 1985 NBL final. Singlets, six Saints season tickets, and other rare paraphernalia are also available.
What about Scots in 2022? They are the reigning Pohlen Cup champions but were beaten in their first grading game of the season on Friday night by St Patrick’s College, Silverstream (64-52).
“It went really well. We only had one practice before the game so our expectations were low. Silverstream will be near the top this year. To put together such a competitive display was a pleasing start.
“Silverstream is being coached by Terry Stallworth whose very experienced. They’ve got a couple of big boys who are really handy.
“Our roster goes one through twelve. We’ve got a couple of boys to come back and a lot to build on.”