Basketball New Zealand Awards recognise outstanding achievement

Basketball New Zealand Awards recognise outstanding achievement
Excellence, outstanding achievements and true dedication to New Zealand basketball was celebrated at the Basketball New Zealand Awards this evening, held at a sold out event in Wellington.

Among the 23 awards presented, Nelson’s Anita Hannen was presented the highest honour with the Basketball New Zealand Legend Award.

Among the player awards, Tall Fern Jillian Harmon won female player of the year for the second year running. Tall Blacks Shea Ili won Male Player of the Year. Charlisse Leger-Walker retained her Mcloughlin Trophy, winning the Female Junior Player of the Year and Quinn Clinton won the Male Junior player of the year.

Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive, Iain Potter, said the evening’s awards celebrate another year where the sport has achieved a great deal, both here in New Zealand and globally.

“Tonight we reflected on some very special people, particularly those recipients of Long Service Awards, the Star Awards and the Hall of Fame inductions. Many of their citations outlined decades of selfless dedication, the overcoming of hardships, driven philanthropic acts and an unyielding desire to make a difference. Their stories are inspiring and everyone who attended, I’m sure, will have felt with a strong sense appreciation for their service.”

The Basketball New Zealand Award winners acknowledged for the 2017 year are:

CEDRIC CUDBY VOLUNTEER– Paula Wilkinson (Canterbury)
SERVICES TO COACHING – Joe Frost (Manawatu)
KEITH MAIR MALE COACH OF THE YEAR – Nixon Penese (Wellington)
ASSOCIATION OF THE YEAR – Buller Basketball Association
LONG SERVICE AWARD – Willie Bryant (Manawatu)
LONG SERVICE AWARD – Wayne Rogers (Mid Canterbury)
•LONG SERVICE AWARD – Wendy Workman (Palmerston North)
LONG SERVICE AWARD – John Grocott (Canterbury)
MURRAY McMAHON AWARD – Claire Dallison
STAR AWARD – Elizabeth and Paul Blackwell
STAR AWARD – Marjean and Denis Jones. 
HALL OF FAME (Player) – Pero Cameron
HALL OF FAME (Technical Official) – Peter Murray
HALL OF FAME (Contributor) – Justin Toebes (Wellington)
BASKETBALL NEW ZEALAND LEGEND AWARD – Anita Hannen (Nelson, West Coast and Dunedin).

Paula Wilkinson (Canterbury)

Canterbury Basketball Association’s Paula Wilkinson has been involved in basketball for over 50 years as a player, coach, referee and administrator. She is still active across all four of these roles today. 

Wilkinson started two basketball clubs from scratch. One in Diamond Harbour and another based at a council venue in Christchurch, called Pioneer. Pioneer are now an incorporated society, have an active committee and run primary school competitions. They entered 17 teams into the Canterbury basketball Association’s winter club competitions. 

Pioneer also facilitate coach and referee development. Wilkinson has influenced thousands of school kids in Christchurch over the years, including former Tall Ferns Sally and Gina Farmer, Tall Black Ethan Rustbach, international coach Kennedy Kereama, and referees Matt Bathurst and Marty Davidson. 

Willie Bryant (Manawatu)

Willie Bryant has been involved in basketball for 45 years as a player, coach, manager as well as referee evaluator and trainer. 

Most of those years have been dedicated to basketball in the Manawatu region where Bryant was employed as the Association Leagues Manager for many years, before he moved into teaching. Bryant has volunteered to train junior referees and still fills the role of NBL Referee Evaluator. 

Joe Frost (Manawatu)

Joe Frost is a life member of Basketball Manawatu and has been involved in the game for over 40 years. He began his career in Wellington before moving up to Palmerston North to coach. 

Frost coached in the NBL from 1984 until 1989 with the UBIX second division team and returned in 1997 for three years to coach the Manawatu Jets. He coached at Palmerston North Boys High School for 20 years winning two national titles in 1994 and 1995. In more recent times, he has coached the Manukura Girls team where the team made the final at their first ever appearance at a national Schick Championships in 2017. 

LORI MCDANIEL (Canterbury) 

For the second year running, Lori McDaniel has been presented with the Carolyn Grey Female Coach of the Year Award.

McDaniel is employed by the Canterbury Basketball Association as a Community Coach and Women’s Development Manager. McDaniel coaches the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats who won back to back WBC titles in 2016 and 2017.  She coached the Aon New Zealand Under 17 girls’ team who finished fourth at the 2017 FIBA Under 16 Asian Championships, earning them a place in this year’s FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Belarus, where she will again lead the team. 

The FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Belarus will be the first time a New Zealand junior girls' team will compete at this event.

Nixon Penese (Wellington)

Nixon Penese has worked tirelessly coaching junior and senior female athletes to develop and improve their game. In 2017 he coached the St. Mary’s College Senior A team that won the AA Schick National Secondary School Championships. At representative level, he coached the Wellington Under 19 team that finished fifth at the 2017 Aon National Under 19 Championships. Last year, he was awarded College Sport Wellington’s Male Coach of the Year and has recently been accepted into the prestigious Sport New Zealand’s Performance Coach Advance programme that will run from 2018 through until 2020. 

Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)

For the second year running, Charlisse Leger-Walker receives the McLoughlin Trophy. 

Leger-Walker enjoyed an outstanding 2017 season that culminated in an invitation to join the Tall Ferns wider training squad in preparation for the FIBA Asia Cup. 

She also represented New Zealand at two FIBA pinnacle events last year, as part of the Aon New Zealand Under 18 team that won silver at the FIBA Oceania Championships. In doing so, they qualified for the 2018 Under 18 FIBA Asia Championships. Leger-Walker also helped lead the New Zealand Under 16 women to a fourth place finish at the FIBA Under 16 Asia Championships, again qualifying for the Under 17 FIBA World Championships, which will take place later this year. 

Leger-Walker was also dominant in the domestic season. She led Waikato to two national championships at the Under 19 and Under 23 tournaments, claiming MVP at both. Already she looks to be a strong contender to get the three-peat next year as her accolades continue to mount, including recently becoming the youngest ever Tall Fern to wear the national singlet. 

Quinn Clinton (Canterbury)

Quinn Clinton was a member of the Junior Tall Blacks who were the first New Zealand age group team to attend a FIBA Under 19 World Cup. Held in Cairo, Clinton demonstrated outstanding leadership on and off the court. Clinton was influential in a number of big plays at critical times during and was a major contributor. He was the team’s second-leading scorer averaging 12.1 points per game. 

At the Aon Under 19 National Championship, Clinton led the Waitaha Canterbury combined team to a stunning comeback win against Auckland in the Grand Final to win. With the score against Clinton’s team, 82 points to 65 at the start of the fourth quarter, he finished the game with 34 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists to help win. He was selected in the tournament All Star Five and awarded MVP. 

Clinton is a development player with the SKYCITY Breakers, a member of the Canterbury Rams and will join St. Mary’s College in California where he will play college basketball later this year.

Buller Basketball Association

The awards panel stated that the Buller Association fulfilled all of the award criteria in 2017. When considering this award, the panel went beyond traditional measures and hard statistics, especially as the majority of Associations operate in unique environments and face a variety of challenges, which is the case for the Buller Basketball Association.

Over the last several years the Buller community has faced true adversity. The region’s job market has been significantly reduced leading to a decrease is the local population. Despite this, Basketball is alive in the region. Membership numbers are stable and there is a strong volunteer presence in the basketball community. Although there has not been a spike in total overall numbers, the Buller Association has been relatively successful given some of the external factors influencing the community environment. 

This year Buller will host a South Island ‘A’ grade Schick Secondary Schools premiership tournament. This is a testament to the perseverance of the Association and its determination to overcome tough obstacles.

Context is important and in this instance – this 2017 award recognises an isolated sports association that has continued to work for the game during a time when many sports have struggled. Buller is a fantastic example of what a community association can achieve.

Willie Bryant (Manawatu)

Also the winner of the Official of the Year, Willie Bryant was acknowledged over 40 years of service to the game.

Bryant has worked virtually every role in basketball, but it was in officiating that Bryant made his greatest contribution. Referees are vital to sport and developing New Zealand referees is important to the future of basketball.

Bryant is still involved in referee development in Palmerston North where he is the Referee Coordinator, a volunteer role. In that job Bryant works with around 75 junior referees to provide mentoring and guidance for the next generation of officials. 

He has also been involved with Basketball Pacific as a coach and referee, and is still a Referee Trainer and Evaluator for Basketball New Zealand. Bryant has had a huge impact at local level, coaching, managing and refereeing in Palmerston North, and is a life member of Basketball Manawatu.

Wayne Rogers (Mid Canterbury)

Wayne Rogers has given 40 years of service to basketball in New Zealand.

Rodgers comes from the Mid Canterbury Basketball Association where he began his involvement in the sport in 1977, playing miniball for St Joseph’s School in Ashburton. He then moved in to coaching, a decision initially inspired by his own children’s involvement in the game. 

Rodgers filled nearly every coaching role in the Mid Canterbury region. He coached primary school teams, representative teams, led Basketball New Zealand Cluster Camps and went on to manage New Zealand age group teams. 

Rodgers has coached nearly every Mid Canterbury rep team. His work as a coach and coach trainer has led to a constant stream of quality players in the region, many of which have gone on to earn selection in the Canterbury teams that compete at Nationals. 

In 2011, Rodgers became a committee member for Mid Canterbury before being elected President at the end of that year, a role he still fills today. In 2012 he was nominated for Mid Canterbury Sportsman of the Year for Administration, an award he won in 2015. He was also recognised at the Mid Canterbury Sports Awards for his volunteer services to basketball. In 2017 he won the McGrath Trophy for services to Mid Canterbury Basketball.

Wendy Workman (Palmerston North)

Wendy Workman became involved in basketball in Palmerston North and has devoted 57 years to the game.

Workman began volunteering when she was 16 years old, the following year she joined the local basketball association committee.

After moving to Palmerston North, Workman continued to offer her services to the game. She began as a player, then went on to coach and manage teams in the Manawatu region. 

Workman has assisted as a referee, score bench official, administrator, committee secretary and treasurer. She also became the President of the Palmerston North Basketball Association where she helped take the Association from a position of significant debt to a point of stability. 

An influential member of the Cheetah Girls’ Basketball Club, Workman helped the club grow to become one of the largest in the region. She was instrumental in running primary and secondary school competitions, and is still actively involved in referee and score bench training. 

John Grocott (Canterbury)

John Grocott has given 50 years of service to basketball. He began playing at Wellington College in the mid 1950’s before he moved to attend Canterbury University. 

Grocott started playing at Canterbury Basketball in 1956 and took up the role of Club Treasurer in the early 60’s. During that period he was elected to the Committee of the Canterbury Men’s Basketball Association. Grocott was President in 1970 when the men’s and women’s associations combined to form the Canterbury Basketball Association.

In 1967, Grocott attained his National Refereeing badge and refereed in local Christchurch competitions for the next 40 years. From 1970 through until 1980, he organised the Canterbury Secondary School’s Friday night competition. The competition grew from 24 teams in 1970 to just over 100 teams in 1980.

During the mid-70’s, Grocott became involved with Basketball New Zealand when the office was based in Christchurch. In 1980 he was elected onto the Executive and remained in that role for 10 years.  

Grocott was also involved with the National Coaches Association as well as the National Referees Association, which were both located in Christchurch. In the late 90’s Grocott was the Auditor of Basketball New Zealand and is currently the auditor of the New Zealand Basketball Foundation.  

In 1993, Grocott was honoured with the Sir Lance Cross Memorial Award. He was made a Life Member of the Canterbury Basketball Association in 1999 as well as the now disestablished Canterbury Officials Association. He was also made a Life Member of Basketball New Zealand in 2007.

Shea Ili

Shea Ili picked up two awards, Male Player of the year and the MVP award.

In 2017 Ili led the Tall Blacks to a fourth place finish at the 2017 Asia Cup with his best performances in the Tall Black singlet. 

Ili averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists per game and was selected in the FIBA Asia Cup All Star Five. In the NZ NBL, he led the Wellington Saints to an unbeaten season, winning back to back NBL Championships. Ili was awarded NBL Finals MVP after scoring 31 points against the Southland Sharks in the final. The 2017/18 ANBL season would prove a breakthrough season for Ili, when he was awarded the ANBL’s Most Improved Player averaging 9.2 points and 3.1 assists per game for the SKYCITY Breakers. 

Jillian Harmon

Jillian Harmon was the Tall Ferns leading scorer and fourth overall scorer at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, averaging 14 points per game. She also finished second overall in rebounding, pulling in 9.3 rebounds per game. 

For the last decade Harmon has set the benchmark for consistent forward play for the Tall Ferns. She currently plies her trade in the highly competitive Italian Women’s Serie A1 League with Napoli. In 2017 she played for Le Mura Lucca who won the Serie A1 Championship, sweeping Pala Tagliate three games to none. Jillian averaged 17.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Her scoring numbers placed her third in the league for points per game. 

Claire Dallison (Nelson and Auckland)

The Murray McMahon Award recognises a notable contribution to men’s basketball in New Zealand. 

Claire Dallison was an integral part of the Tall Blacks from 2007 through to 2014 as strength and conditioning coach, and team manager. She also shared her knowledge and expertise of the strength and condition space with New Zealand age group players in the Talent Development Programme. Dallison’s commitment to players, coaches and administrators has contributed significantly to the strong Tall Blacks environment that exists today. 

Dallison sacrificed time at home with her family to travel with the Tall Blacks on overseas tours, at times being away for 10 weeks at a time. She took the team to two World Championships, two Olympic Qualifying events, as well as a number of continental events. During these tours, Dallison filled nearly every role and was often referred to as the team manager, strength and conditioning coach, team phycologist, head of delegation as well as mentor and mother. Her attention to detail and intense focus ensured the team, from the players to the staff, were always looked after. 

Dallison provided a key link between Basketball New Zealand and the Tall Blacks at a time where basketball was going through a period of instability and change. Despite these challenges, Dallison remained positive and driven to deliver the best programme possible. Her efforts, along with former Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic, led to the establishment of many key international relationships that are still strong today. Those relationships have allowed the Tall Blacks to visit and play against some of the world’s basketball powerhouses including Turkey, Lithuania and Serbia.  

Today, Dallison is still involved in basketball as a strong supporter of the New Zealand Breakers. 

Kennedy Kereama (Canterbury)

This award recognises a notable contribution to women’s basketball in New Zealand.

Kennedy Kereama has coached at almost every level, from coaching the Christchurch Girls’ High School Senior A team in the early 2000’s right through to national level where he coached the Tall Ferns from 2010 until the beginning of this year.

Kereama’s coaching resume is a long one that includes a number of successful results. From 2003 until 2007, he coached at secondary school level. During that time he also coached Under 15, Under 16, Under 17, Under 19 and Under 21 Canterbury women’s teams. Over that period Kereama’s teams claimed three Silvers and one Gold medal result at national events. 

He began his international coaching career in 2007 with the New Zealand U16 women’s team. He then became the Technical Assistant for the Tall Ferns in 2008, the year the Tall Ferns attended the Beijing Olympic Games. In 2009 Kereama became the Assistant Coach of the Tall Ferns before stepping into the Head Coach role in 2010. He coached the team to many international victories, including an historic win over Spain in 2016. 

Kereama coached in the Women’s Basketball Championship, formerly known as the Women’s National Basketball League. He also coached in Australia in the South East Australian Basketball League, or SEABL, and in 2009 received the SEABL Coach of the Year Award after taking the Albury Wodonga Lady Bandits to their first finals appearance.  

Kereama’s contribution to women’s basketball in New Zealand has been immense. His passion for coaching has led to the development and growth of many of New Zealand’s elite women’s players. He recently resigned as Tall Ferns Head Coach, but has left the group in a strong position to succeed under new coach Guy Molloy. 


The Basketball New Zealand Star Awards acknowledge influential members of the wider basketball community.

Elizabeth and Paul Blackwell

Paul grew up in Auckland where he attended St. Peter’s College. He eventually moved to Matamata in 1987 after purchasing a book store. It was here that he met Liz. 

Liz grew up in Matamata where she went to Matamata College. She then went on to study teaching at Waikato University before becoming a primary school teacher at Hinuera Primary for eight years.

In 1998, they moved to Takapuna to set up the Pak N Save supermarket in Albany. It was through this industry that led Paul and Liz to the SKYCITY Breakers. In 2003 they became corporate seat holders and regularly attended games as a family. Under Paul and Liz, Pak N Save Albany became an official sponsor of the Breakers franchise. In 2005 they made the decision to buy the franchise and take over as owners. 

Over their 13 year tenure, the franchise went through enormous growth. Paul and Liz led the team through a complete transformation, turning the Breakers into one of the most successful New Zealand sports team in recent memory. 

Their commitment to using basketball as a vehicle for positive influence was infectious. Paul and Liz created a family culture in which players, both domestic and international, felt welcome. Many overseas elite players made the journey over to New Zealand to join the team, a testament to the attractive, healthy environment Paul and Liz created. 

During their time the Breakers won four championships and went close on a number of other occasions. The team is now considered one of the benchmark organisations in the League and their success on the court has been equal to their influence off the court. 

The Breakers have given young Kiwi basketballers something to aspire to. Paul and Liz are Life Members of the Breakers and will remain part owners of the team.  

The Blackwell’s love for the community extends beyond just the Breakers and they have contributed to many other worthy causes. 

Marjean and Denis Jones 

The Jones’ unrelenting passion for New Zealand teams and players goes beyond that of an average supporter. 

In the early 2000’s they owned Burger King in New Zealand and stepped in to become the first ever official sponsor of the Tall Blacks. During that period the Tall Blacks achieved their best ever finish at a 2002 FIBA World Cup, finishing fourth at this prestigious event. 

Marjean and Denis’ irrepressible enthusiasm and support over an extended period of time exemplifies a love for the sport that does not waiver.

Denis and Marjean also have a strong connection with the Breakers. Burger King was an early sponsor of the franchise back in 2003 when Denis was involved with the company. He would later go on to join the Breakers Board and is one of the few life members of the club. To this day they attend the games and are still avid supporters of the franchise.


The Hall of Fame and Basketball Legend Awards are considered the top accolades in New Zealand basketball. The Hall of Fame has inductees in four categories (Coach, Player, Technical Official and Contributor). The Basketball Legend recipient is always selected from the list of previous Hall of Fame recipients.

Pero Cameron

Cameron is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated players after leaving his mark on the international stage as well as on home soil.

The list of achievements is long, but there are some historic moments that stand out. Cameron captained the Tall Blacks to an incredible fourth place finish at the 2002 FIBA World Cup. At the conclusion of the tournament, Cameron was named in the All Star Five alongside NBA stars Dirk Notwizki and Manu Ganobli. He went on to represent New Zealand at two more World Cups in 2006 and 2010.

Cameron is a two time Olympian having played for the Tall Blacks at the 2000 Sydney Games and 2004 Athens Games. In 2006 in Melbourne, Pero led the Tall Blacks to their highest ever finish at a Commonwealth Games claiming Silver. 

Back home in the NZ NBL league, he burst onto the scene in 1992 where he was named Rookie of the Year. He would then go on to dominant the League for the next 15 years. He won the NBL title nine times, was selected in the All Star Five seven times and was the league MVP five times. 

Cameron also played in the United Kingdom, Turkey, Iran and Australia.

In 2011 he was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Cameron has transitioned into coaching and is now a member of the Tall Blacks staff.

In 2017 Cameron was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame and is the only New Zealander to receive that accolade.

HALL OF FAME – Technical Official
Peter Murray

Peter Murray’s story is one of true inspiration and a reminder of what can be achieved through sheer perseverance. His impact extends far beyond the deaf community and his influence on the entire basketball community cannot be understated.

Murray’s early experiences in basketball were as a player. He joined the Auckland Deaf Basketball Club in 1959. He went on to play for the Auckland Association at representative level and represented New Zealand at the Olympic Games for the Deaf in 1965.

Murray retired as a player in 1981 to concentrate on refereeing where he would make his mark. In the same year he founded the New Zealand Deaf Basketball Association. Through the 1980’s Murray worked his way up the refereeing ranks and in 1989 reached a number of milestones. He was awarded Life Membership of the Auckland Deaf Basketball Association after serving as President for 25 years. He also became the first deaf referee to officiate on a hearing-abled international men’s game between Yugoslavia and Waitemata. 

In 1996 Murray was promoted to the NZ NBL referee’s panel, the first deaf referee to achieve this status.

Through the early 2000’s Peter established himself on the international stage. In 2005 he was invited to referee at the Deaflympics in Melbourne, the same event he had attended as a player 40 years ago. He was invited to a number of international referee seminars and in 2007 was appointed a Board member of the International Deaf Basketball Association.

In 2015 Murray was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2017 was awarded Life Membership of the New Zealand Deaf Basketball Association after serving as President for 35 years.

HALL OF FAME – Contributor 
Justin Toebes (Wellington)

Justin Toebes began as a player in the former Central League and Wellington Basketball Association, and was first elected on to the Wellington Basketball Association Executive in 1994. In 1995 Toebes was elected to President, a position he held for 10 years. During that time he helped stabilised the Association during a period of potential insolvency. 

Toebes continued to serve on the Wellington Basketball Association Executive Committee from 2005 through until 2012. Justin was a key influencer in the formation of the Capital Zone Basketball Trust. In his role with the Trust, Toebes focused on providing young players in the Capital region with opportunities to get involved in basketball. His generosity has extended as far as assisting players who have made national team and supporting them financially. He has made similar contributions to players who have secured scholarships overseas.

In 2002 Toebes joined the Board of Basketball New Zealand and served as Vice President from 2003 until 2006. He drafted a new constitution for the organisation and successfully campaigned for the return of the NBL as part of Basketball New Zealand. Toebes became a member of the NBL Board and was a player representative for five years. 

Toebes also served as Basketball New Zealand’s representative on the FIBA Oceania Board.

For over 30 years, Toebes has been a tremendous supporter of the Wellington Saints. He has served as the Treasurer and the Chairman, and is still an active board member. 

He is a Life Member of both New Zealand Basketball and Wellington Basketball. He was also awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to basketball and is a previous winner of the Sir Lance Cross Memorial Award. 

Anita Hannen (Nelson, West Coast and Dunedin)

This award is presented to someone who has previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame and has achieved ‘legend’ status.

Anita Hannen began her basketball career in 1946 in Nelson. As a young girl, she was selected in the Nelson team that would go on to compete at the 1946 National Outdoor Basketball Championships. This would be the beginning of a distinguished career that included many milestones.

She went on to represent New Zealand over a 10 year period from 1950 through until 1961. Anita was a member of the first New Zealand women’s team to tour Australia in 1958. The team played 13 games over a three-week period, winning 11 of those. They recorded three test wins over Australia, playing games in Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide.

Hannen represented three associations. She began in Nelson where she played most of her junior basketball before moving to the West Coast in 1958. That year, Hannen was part of the West Coast team that competed at their first National Championship. The team went on to win the National ‘B’ Championship. Three years later, in 1961, Hannen would again lead the West Coast team to success, this time winning the National ‘A’ Reserve Championship. 

In 1963, Hannen moved to Dunedin where she still played the game, however more and more of her time was dedicated to her four young children. Hannen and the family then moved back to Nelson in 1967 and after playing just the one game, she was convinced her playing days were up. 

Hannen is a member of the Basketball New Zealand Hall of Fame and one of our most iconic female players.