A major recruitment could be quickly coming to a close as New Zealand native and Class of 2016 big man Tai Wynyard will decide today between Kentucky, Texas and Villanova, according to Olgun Uluc of Pick and Roll Australia.
A 6-foot-9, 230-pound big man, Wynyard took unofficial visits to all three schools during January and has scholarship offers from all three programs. The 16-year-old Wynyard is the son of world-champion woodchoppers and first started gaining international acclaim for his performances playing against older competition.
Wynyard 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, according to SNY.tv‘s Adam Zagoria.
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.
Although currently a member of the 2016 class, there have been rumors that Wynyard could move into the 2015 class, which means he could be playing college basketball as early as next season.
Regardless of when he begins playing college hoops, it will likely take Wynyard some time to adjust to the American athleticism and style of play. But Wynyard already owns a reputation for being rugged and physical, so that aspect of the game doesn’t appear to be much of an issue.