Basketball: Revamped NBL offers Tai Wynyard career lifeline

While many of our New Zealand's top basketball talents are keeping their names out of the revamped NBL competition, one sees it as a chance to reignite his career..

Tai Wynyard was once tipped to be the countries next prodigy, following in the footsteps of NBA star Steven Adams, but lingering injuries and internal issues have left him to start his career over.

At just 22, Wynyard's certainly had his share of trials and tribulations, but the national league presents a chance to earn much-needed time on court.

"I can still play," he tells Newshub. "They haven't seen me play for a while, I just want to show I can still play and still have a right hook shot.

In his early teens, Wynyard went from strength to strength as a dominant force for the Junior Tall Blacks and was named Most Valuable Player at the 3x3 world championships, before signing with American college powerhouse Kentucky University, with the NBA firmly in his sights..

But he spent more time on the bench than on the court, before an incident involving Wynyard and another student, who was carrying a firearm at a party, saw the budding star suspended. 

He then transferred to another college, before eventually returning to the comforts of home.

"I think when I came home, taking that year off was pretty hard on me, because I put on a bit of weight," he says. "It just makes it that much harder to get back up and get back to where you were, you know?"

Wynyard then had recent stints with the Southland Sharks and Cairns Taipans, but made little progress due to lack of court-time and lingering back issues.

"I do wish that I had stayed home and got better back here, and gone through that route, but you can't look back at the past," he says. "You've always got to look forward.

"Everythings a learning curve, I'll take what I can from it and get better."

Wynyard is just the kind of player NBL general manager Justin Nelson hopes to attract into the restructured post-coronavirus format. 

"We're really excited to see Tai put his hand up for the draft," says Nelson. "He'll have a real opportunity to put up some big numbers."

With the hardships behind him, Tai Wynyard's ready to prove his worth - not only to himself, but those watching here and abroad.