Zack Te Puni heads to New York

We caught up with Zack Te Puni on the day of his departure to the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York where he will spend the next four years on a basketball scholarship. There he will come under the tutorage of Brian Beaury, one of the most experienced and respected coaches in American NCAA basketball.

Beaury has developed a winning programme throughout his 30-plus years at The College of Saint Rose. His career has spanned five decades after arriving at Saint Rose as a student-athlete in 1978 and being hired as a coach in the 80’s.

The 56-year-old mentor has compiled a 622-316 (.663) career record with the Golden Knights and has earned Coach of the Year plaudits on five separate occasions. Beaury became just the ninth active NCAA Division II head coach to reach the 600-win plateau early last season and he is looking forward to working with Zack.

I knew the first time I watched a highlight film of Zack that he could be a very good player here at Saint Rose. The more I researched and watched the more my interests grew. As I got to know Zack personally, he impressed me as a young man with a dream and the strength to manage the student athlete experience here at Saint Rose.”

Te Puni is equally thrilled to playing for Coach Beaury, “He has an awesome record and I can’t wait to get to Saint Rose and learn from such a highly respected coach. I’m really excited about the challenges ahead, being in a basketball programme full-time, and assessing how I shape up amongst older, more experienced players.”

Te Puni will have October 25 marked in his diary as the Golden Knights open their season with an exhibition game at Division 1 powerhouse Syracuse University before Northeast 10 Conference play commences in November.

“Playing at Syracuse, such a well known American University with a renowned basketball programme, is an exciting prospect,” said Te Puni.

Te Puni ended his Rangitoto College career as one of the most decorated players in the school’s basketball history. Whilst there he won four National championships: back-to back Schick Secondary Schools National Championships in 2015 and 2016 as well as two 3x3 National titles.

During that time Te Puni also won both the National Under 15 and Under 17 representative titles with Harbour.

Te Puni played alongside the likes of Dan Fotu, Cameron Stone and Logan Anderson throughout his school career on teams that also won two Junior Premierships and two AIMS titles to add to the National’s successes.

“All the titles were enjoyable but the 2016 Secondary Schools win against Palmerston North Boys is the most memorable just because of the crazy finish when Cam (Stone) hit the winning shot on the buzzer,” said Te Puni.

“I have been lucky to have been helped by a lot of good people during my career to date. My mum and dad have helped me enormously as have the various coaches I have played for. I’m especially grateful to Kenny Stone and Vince Minjares for the encouragement and belief they have shown in me. Also John Hunt has always been very supportive and helpful,” Te Puni added.

Coach Beaury will be the next to assist Zack on his journey and likes what he sees in his freshman forward.

“He has the ability to make shots, rebound and defend multiple positions and has a great upside as a player. He reminds me of a combination of two of our graduating student athletes, Julian Lipinski and Jack Jones, both from Australia. They were both young talented shot makers who developed into successful leaders on the court and in the classroom over their 4 years here at Saint Rose.

“We play in a very strong NCAA Division II Conference, the NE10 (there are 15 teams in our conference) and have experienced great success over the years. We earn top honours academically annually and have participated in the NCAA Tournament 15 times over the years. We’re proud of our 3 Elite Eight appearances and our Final 4 appearance during that span. We’re fresh off “back to back” NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2017 and a Second Round appearance in 2018.

“I believe Zack will grow here both on and off the court and his student athlete experience will benefit the Saint Rose community as well as Zack and his family. I really look forward to working with him over the next four years,” added Beaury.

Te Puni is one of a growing number of Harbour players now playing college basketball in the USA. All at Harbour Basketball wish Zack well and will be following his fortunes with interest.


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