NZ Breakers add Tall Black and French NBA prospect to spark rebuild

Source: 1News

The Breakers are turning to a top French NBA prospect and kiwi talent in their bid to return to the winner's circle next season.

The Breakers sign French prospect as they go through rebuild.

Coming off their worst season in the NBL, winning only five of their 28 games, the team announced on Friday that they have signed 18-year-old Rayan Rupert from France and Tall Black Izayah Le’afa.

Rupert is a projected first-round pick in the 2023 NBA draft – who will be part of the NBL’s Next Stars programme.

It’s not the first time the Auckland based side have signed promising international talent.

Orlando Magic guard, RJ Hampton played on the team before getting drafted 24th overall in 2020. And NBA hopefuls Ousmane Dieng and Hugo Besson played for the club last season.

Breakers CEO, Matt Walsh says he is looking forward to watching Rupert follow in the footsteps of their previous next stars.

“Rayan is an extremely hard worker, and we can’t wait to see him in a Breakers’ uniform,” Walsh said.

“He is one of the top young talents in the world, and we are excited for him to continue the Next Stars success that we have had following an amazing season from Ousmane Dieng.”

Rupert competed in the Adidas Next Generation tournament, made up of Europe’s best basketball clubs, in the under-18 age category and is also a graduate of INSEP, France’s national sport institute where Dieng as well as NBA great Tony Parker attended.

While playing at INSEP, he averaged 13.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game and joins the Breakers at 2.04m with a staggering 2.22m wingspan.

The guard is also the first and only signing from outside of Australia and New Zealand the Breakers have made so far, suggesting that new Coach Mody Maor is focused on local talent.

Not long after Rupert’s signing, the Breakers confirmed that Le’afa will join the team on a two-year deal.

He was reported to be on their radar since being released by the South East Melbourne Phoenix so he could return home.

"We promised we would hit the ground running with our attempts to rebuild our roster, and Kiwi players have responded," Maor said.

While playing for the Phoenix over the last two seasons, Le'afa averaged 8.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists, posting a career-high 29 points in 28 minutes.

Coming off their worst season in the NBL, winning only five of their 28 games, the team announced on Friday that they have signed 18-year-old Rayan Rupert from France - a projected first-round pick in the 2023 NBA draft - who will be part of the NBL’s Next Stars programme.

The former Breakers development player is looking forward to his homecoming.

"Being a New Zealander, being a Kiwi is everything to me. I don't know if words can really explain it."

In the meantime, Rupert's journey to the NBA begins in mid-August when he arrives in Auckland.