North Harbor basketball prodigy chasing NBA dream

Julius Halaifonua. Remember the name.

The North Harbor age-grade basketball star is just 15-years-old but stands at a whopping 2.08m tall. Although he is 2.13m when wearing his basketball sneakers.

His size 16 feet are taking him places. Already he’s been invited to the NBA Academy in Canberra and is waiting to hear whether they want him to move over full-time.

It would mean the Rosmini College big man would have to finish his schooling in Canberra but it’s his best chance of achieving the NBA dream.

“The big goal is probably trying to get a division one (US college) scholarship and then hopefully from there get to the NBA,” Halaifonua tells 1News.

Halaifonua is a special talent. He’s already plays above his age grade for the New Zealand under-17’s, which he’ll represent in June at the FIBA ​​Asia Cup in Qatar.

“He’s the most talented kid I’ve coached or seen,” says his North Harbor coach Josh Davis.

“He’s one of the best shooters I’ve coached and he’s 6” 10, 6 “11. He can dribble the basketball, he can pass and create shots for team-mates and obviously can score for himself. “

Basketball isn’t just a game for Halaifonua, though. It’s a pathway that led to a community which surrounded him and his family after the tragic death of his father.

In 2013, Willie Halaifonua was playing club rugby for Takapuna when he suffered a head knock. Initially it did not seem to bother him but minutes later, as the teams were shaking hands, he collapsed and later died in hospital from a brain bleed.

Julius, then seven, and younger sister Leila, were watching sideline with their mother Turea.

“It happened such a long time ago,” says Turea.

“But you know there’s certain situations where there’s something missing. Julius has been awesome, he’s an amazing brother, an amazing person in general and it’s huge. So proud. ”

At such a young age, Halaifonua says he has already taken on the mentality of protector and provider.

“That’s probably the life that he would want me to live. Always look after my family and friends. That’s just kind of how he lived his life – always looked after family, me and my mum and sister. “

Julius played rugby league until his father’s passing. His mother tells the story of several sliding doors moments that led their family to basketball.

Now with an entire community behind them, they look forward to what lies ahead.

“Through everything, we’ve just got a good support system. A massive village, ”says Turea.

“They just support Julius beyond basketball. It’s massive. ”

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