Kentucky picked up a big commitment on Sunday afternoon as New Zealand native and Class of 2016 big man Tai Wynyard committed to the Wildcats. The news of Wynyard’s commitment was first reported by Evan Daniels of Scout.com.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Wynyard visited Kentucky, Texas and Villanova earlier in January and was offered a scholarship by Kentucky.
Wynyard is currently 16 years old, and a member of the 2016 class, but there are rumors that he could join the 2015 class. Kentucky doesn’t have a commitment in the 2016 class yet, but the 2015 class has commitments from guards Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews as well as center Skal Labissiere.
“I’m not sure yet, I can decide later,” Wynyard said to Daniels on which class he’ll join.
With some questioning the future eligibility of Labissiere at Kentucky, Wynyard just provides another layer of insurance in Kentucky’s recruiting efforts. If Labissiere is ineligible at Kentucky, Wynyard could be asked to join the Kentucky’s ’15 class. If Skal plays for the Wildcats with no issues, Wynyard could wait until 2016. Or, if Kentucky is hit hard by 2015 NBA Draft and transfer losses, both big men could potentially join the roster in 2015.
Kentucky’s newest commit played in New Zealand’s NBL in 2014 and also became the youngest player ever to suit up for the New Zealand senior national team in a brief appearance with them last year. Compared favorably to Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams, a fellow Kiwi, Wynyard is currently training with the professional New Zealand Breakers U19 team while also practicing with the senior Breakers team.
For mine, Wynyard is an even better prospect than Adams was at this stage in his development.
Possessing soft hands and an imposing frame, Wynyard is a beast who is capable of finishing at a solid clip around the basket. When defenders rotate away from him to corral ball handlers, Wynyard makes them pay – presenting a wide target and gobbling up all drop off passes thrown his way. Wynyard also has a knack for and-one’s, using his brute strength to power through contact and lay the ball in.
Defensively Wynyard has an innate understanding of rotations, generally placing himself in reasonable help position and guards well in space. There’s an argument to be made that he was the best defender on his NBL squad – although that is a bit of a backhanded compliment with the Rangers owning the worst defence in the league by a country mile.
Obviously the young behemoth isn’t without flaws – he doesn’t really have any range offensively and is foul prone on defence – but he doesn’t even turn 17 for another five months.