Could Tafara Gapare be New Zealand basketball's next great hope?

Could we see him in Australia's NBL next season?

The next generation of Australian basketball talent is coming in thick and fast. Josh Giddey and Mojave King quickly burst to prominence after signing as the first locals to the NBL’s Next Stars program, the former of which has quickly solidified his stock as a first round pick with his play so far in the NBL.

Looking ahead to those eligible for the 2022 NBA draft class, there is already one Australian name currently on draft boards - Dyson Daniels. However, across the ditch in New Zealand lies another teen with NBA potential, playing in relative obscurity.

Tafara Gapare is an 18 year old currently in his final year of high school for Scots College in Wellington. With highlight athleticism and a dynamic offensive game, the sky is the limit for the young Kiwi.

To find out more about Tafara Gapare’s game, check out the scouting video below, brought to you by The Pick and Roll.

While his ceiling is high, his current flaws make him a polarising prospect. Despite his acclaim, Gapare was recently omitted from the final 12-man roster of the NZNBL’s Wellington Saints’ roster, which begs questions regarding how ready he is to live up to his potential. It is clear that further on and off court growth is required for him to translate his flashes of brilliance into consistent production.

Perspectives from NBA Global Academy’s Marty Clarke

Gapare has also spent some limited time with the NBA Global Academy. Speaking with The Pick and Roll this week, NBA Global Academy’s Technical Director Marty Clarke offered his own perspective on the burgeoning Kiwi talent.

“Tafara’s good. He’s got to make the next step,” Clarke said. “He’s certainly on a group of people that we would consider bringing in [to the NBA Global Academy].

“Athletically, he’s talented. I think he has the ability to play at a number of different positions - I think he’s a natural four, but he’s maybe a three or even a downsized five.

“Length and athleticism, obviously he ticks all those boxes. It’s like everything, if you’re going to move up levels, you have to experience the level you’re moving to or get close to it to be able to make that jump quickly, and I think for him that will be key - has his experience in the situation that he’s been in close enough to the situation that he’s going to in order to make the jump quickly. That’s not to say he can’t make that jump, but just about how quickly he can make it.

“He’s a little raw in the skill area, like he’s shooting needs work but it’s not broken, it’s there, it’s just a matter now of getting reps up and reps at the speed that he’s going to go at while at George Washington. It’s going to be an NCAA environment and they’ll be after it every day.

“He definitely has the ability, it’s just now whether he’ll have the opportunity at the school to show what he can do. Every school is the same, every kid going to college or the NBL or NZNBL, it’s the same - you need good coaching, you need good competition and the opportunity. I’m hoping he’ll be able to assimilate into what NCAA lifestyle is, and be able to get the opportunity to show what he can do, because he’s a good player.”

Though Gapare is currently committed to college, the situation appears potentially tenous. After finishing 11th in the Atlantic-10 Conference last season, the university has faced an influx of transfers - as of late March, George Washington were tied for third most players in the transfer portal in all of college basketball, with eight players looking to leave the program.

Also potentially notable, is the fact that the listed recruiter of Gapare to George Washington according to 247 Sports, former assistant coach Nima Omidvar, is no longer with the program.

Whether his next step lies at George Washington or elsewhere, Tafara Gapare will be an incredibly intriguing name to keep an eye on over the next few years as he seeks to prove himself as one of the faces of the Tall Blacks’ next generation.

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