Remember the name, Jackson Kiss.
Fourteen-year-old Jackson is a young Aucklander making big moves in basketball in the US, already standing at 6-foot-5 with the world at his size 15 feet.
Jackson accepted an invitation just before Christmas to make a dash to Baltimore to continue developing his game and has spent the past few weeks taking on the best junior talent in America.
“It’s been very quick,” Jackson told 1News about his journey.
“Quick” isn’t an understatement. Jackson has only been playing basketball for two years, having previously looked destined to follow in his uncle and former All Black Charlie Riechelmann’s footsteps with a rugby career.
That all changed when he was plucked out of an intermediate school tournament by former Tall Black and now leading coach Lindsay Tait at the end of 2020.
Tait said Jackson’s trip to the US is no holiday.
“He's basically playing against some of, if not the toughest grassroots basketball competition for his age on the entire globe.”
Despite the competition, he's now been picked up by a development team backed by NBA great Carmelo Anthony.
The selection has made Jackson stay put in the US until next month, with a view to returning to high school in Baltimore early next year.
“Some of the offers that are getting thrown at him, it's almost overwhelming,” Tait said.
Tait works closely with youth at Auckland City basketball, without official funding, helping kids often left out of the official system.
“A lot of these kids are missing out on traditional opportunities that are very talented and can play with anyone in the world.”
Proof that appears to be manifesting in Baltimore with Kiss.