In the wake of the Crocs’ disappointing finish in the recent FIBA U17 World Cup, after what had seemed like an encouraging championship run in the FIBA Asian U16 tournament prior, there’s no doubt Tamuri Wigness has already thought about what he could have done better, and possibly help the team advance.
“I could have been more of an aggressor. I could have gotten to the rim more—I was second-guessing everything,” Wigness shared with The Pick and Roll recently.
“When we had patches [of not scoring], I was a bit quiet. I could have picked up my team much better and be more of a leader.”
Wigness, who averaged 10.7 points through the U17 World Cup, has made a name for himself with his explosive acceleration and rapid-fire scoring. Couple that with his Indigenous heritage, and comparisons have been inevitably drawn to that of Patty Mills. It comes as no surprise, that Wigness, who views former NBA player Nathan Jawai as a main role model, aspires to join the ranks of his fellow Australians in the NBA someday.
Mills himself confirmed before the World Cup, that Wigness has already made himself known to the NBA landscape.
“Now, there’s guys who know of him, and watch him, and I know there’s been NBA scouts watching him over the last junior tournament, so it’s exciting,” The San Antonio Spurs guard shared with Fox Sports Australia recently. “I’m gonna be there for him, to help him through, but definitely excited to watch the Worlds, for sure.”
Donning the Australian green and gold has traditionally been a point of pride among Australian athletes, and it’s been the same for Wigness. It’s but his first milestone, however.
“[Representing Australia is] such a big honour,” Wigness shared. “I made that as my first goal – to represent my country first.
“Then, perhaps lead myself to the NBA.”
Wigness also expressed hope about heading to US college in a couple of years, with the possibility of being NBA-bound after. The young guard’s plans might be subject to change however, seeing as the American NCAA’s one-and-done pathway to the NBA is in flux. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently commented in Las Vegas, that he would like to see the return of high school graduates declaring for the NBA.
A member of Canberra’s Centre of Excellence (CoE), the 6 ft guard is also enrolled as an NBA Global Academy prospect, and is currently participating in the second NBA Academy Games and Basketball Australia Prospects Camp. The camp –which is open to NBA team personnel and NCAA coaches– takes place in Canberra’s NBA Global Academy from 15-21 July and features a host of prospects from various countries, including China, India, Mexico and Senegal, along with 50 Australian prospects.
Wigness also received positive attention during the recent NBA Global Camp in July alongside fellow Aussie Josh Green, with Wigness being noted by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony as being a potential NBA prospect, should he continue to improve.
When it comes to skill refinement, there are few Australian training facilities better than the Centre of Excellence, which has had a stellar track record in producing elite basketball talent. Wigness, who is all too aware of his own flaws, has confirmed the first item on his training checklist at the CoE.
“Creating and attacking with my off-hand,” Wigness confirmed.
It makes sense, when you understand how he operates. The point guard is often the on-court leader for basketball teams. Wigness, who prefers to play point guard over shooting guard, sees his leadership as being one of his stronger assets, especially when it comes to running the offence.
“I have more control, I can get everyone involved,” The guard shared. “[I] know when to attack, and set up teammates.”
Using his speed, Wigness often rushes past his primary defender, using his quickness to get to the rim. This allows him to pick team defenses apart and make the kickout pass, in an attempt to find an open waiting teammate. Being able to improve his offence allows him to be a deadlier scoring threat, which forces defenses to key in on him even more, and leave other players open.
The road to the NBA is still a relatively distant one, when it comes to Tamuri Wigness. It’s not out of the realm of impossibility, that we might be witnessing –or rather, Wigness-ing– the rise of another talented Australian basketballer. The golden era of Australian basketball has begun, and we’re all just along for the ride.
To borrow a leaf from LeBron James’ famous slogan, and it’s a statement Wigness himself has embraced – we are all, Wignesses.