After spending the past four years Stateside on a basketball scholarship, Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa is coming home for the first steps on a new course.
The Tall Black has entered the Player Draft for the closely approaching Sal’s NBL competition, in what will be his first chance to dance with other aspiring and current professionals.
Mauriohooho-Le’afa thought it was only right he starts his new career where it all started.
“Having to leave my school over here and plan what’s next has been scary, but exciting at the same time.
“One of my goals when I first came over to the States was to put myself in position to be a professional by the time finish. I’m not sure what’s going to happen later this year, but all I know is that the first part of my next chapter is going to be in the [NZ]NBL.
“It’s cool because I get to come home to my family and also get stuck into what my priority is at the moment and that is improving as a ball player.”
The guard is yet to return from America and unlike many of his fellow countrymen, had access to a gym and coaching over the past few months.
In that time, he was been bust sharpening the duller tools in his belt, while also looking into what can be done off the floor to maximise his output on it.
Mauriohooho-Le’afa says he is in a good place overall and is itching to get back to proper work.
“I’ve been able to go through drills, get shots up and keep my conditioning up, but haven’t been able to carry a lot of it over to live situations.
“It was tough at time because the reason why you train is to get yourself ready for games and for a while, I wasn’t sure when they were going to come.
“It’s also weird going from being around the boys and your team most days to then being sort of isolated, so I’m also looking forward to bonding with my new teammates and coming together to win.”
A new squad for Mauriohooho-Le’afa will also include new threads for the six-week event. The former Saint is a no-brainer early-round pick, already boasting a wealth of experience having only played at the amateur level.
Whoever selects him though will have to wait until at least 27 June to see him in their singlet, as he arrives in the country on 13 June and will have to serve the mandatory two-week quarantine.