The Husker basketball squad has its latest international basketball player with point guard Tai Webster making the final cut for the New Zealand national basketball team.
The ‘Tall Blacks’, named after the black uniforms the team wear as well as a play on the ‘All Blacks’ nickname of the New Zealand national rugby teams, released their final roster on August 19, including the Husker guard in their final 12.
This is not Webster’s first stint with the national teams of New Zealand.
In 2012, he made his debut in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament averaging 13.5 points per game. He established the record for youngest international player in team history at just 17 years and 35 days.
(Webster is No. 15 on the left in this Haka)
The sophomore-to-be for Tim Miles’ Nebrasketball squad joins a list of former Huskers who played all over the world including 2009 third-team All-Big 12 selection Ade Dagunduro (Nigeria) and 2007-2008 second-team All-Big 12 pick Aleks Maric (Australia).
While he won’t be practicing with his teammates, this is a big deal for Webster as he competes against some of the best the world has to offer on the hard wood.
He’ll be relied upon as the likely starting point guard during the 2014 season, but he’ll face competition from returner Benny Parker and incoming freshman Tarin Smith.
Webster’s time on the team has a comfortable factor as he’s joined by his older brother Corey. The brothers are 19 and 25, respectively.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup starts August 30 in Spain. New Zealand is in the same group as the United States with the two countries playing Tuesday, September 2 at 10:30 A.M. central time.
Webster will very likely be on the court with NBA stars such as Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Rose. We can’t forget the possibility of a match-up with Kyle Korver (a former Creighton Bluejay) either.
Following an amazing run to the NCAA tournament, the Huskers will definitely be playing with targets on their back. No more flying under the radar.
Webster’s performance on the big stage will likely affect his confidence coming back to campus.
Going back to his freshman year, Coach Miles noted that confidence and comfort was key with the young New Zealander in an OWH article with Lee Barfknecht:
“Our point guard play is not where I want it to be. We don’t shy away from that. We’ve got to make it better. We’ve got to make him feel more comfortable. We’ve got to spend more time with him and get him going because the competition is going to get better.”
Who better for Webster to ‘get going’ against than some of the top stars that the NBA has to offer?
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