Brayden Inger commits to Mount St Mary's University
Brayden Inger has become the third North Harbour player in as many weeks to commit to an NCAA Division 1 College for the 2017-18 season. Brayden will head to Mount St Mary’s University, Maryland early next year to begin a four year scholarship.
The news brings great delight, and some relief, to those who know Brayden, as the ‘Basketball Gods’ have not been kind to the 203cm forward in the recent past.
Brayden has enjoyed a storied Harbour age group and Rangitoto College career winning multiple national titles but in the last couple of years his progress has been stalled by a series of injuries
He won an Under 15 National title with Harbour in 2013, finished with an Under 17 runners-up medal in 2014 and headed back to the podium with an Under 17 gold medal in 2015. Back to back Secondary Schools National titles with Rangitoto College followed later in 2015 and again in 2016.
Despite these achievements and some serious interest from US colleges following the successful Harbour U19 trip to America in 2016 his time at Rangitoto came to an end with no firm American college offer.
Another injury-interrupted year hadn’t helped his cause with a fractured ankle keeping Brayden sidelined in the first half of 2016.
The same bad luck occurred early in 2017! Tipped by many to be included in the Junior Tall Blacks team to attend the FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo Brayden missed the final cut partly due to the fact that he had once again spent a long time recovering from another broken bone.
His first foray into the New Zealand National Basketball League earlier this year ended almost before it began. Brayden had signed with the Taranaki Mountaineers but sustained a fractured elbow after playing at the pre-season Blitz.
Brayden returned to Auckland for rehabilitation. He recovered in time to re-join the Harbour Under 19 team on its 2017 USA trip in July although no firm offers from colleges eventuated.
Then in September he got the phone call he craved for – an offer from a Division 1 university.
Harbour Development Manager Kevin Braswell was in discussion with a number of universities on Brayden’s behalf. The choice was narrowed down to three with Braswell eventually deeming ‘The Mount’ to be the best fit for Brayden.
“The stability that the Mount Saint Mary’s programme offers and the type of playing role they are offering him is a perfect fit,” Kevin said.
“The week that I got the phone call I had spoken to my uncle in London and was contemplating heading over there for a year and get some work experience. I was going through the logistics of that,” said Brayden.
Last week, nearly a year after leaving school, Brayden, and his mum Anna, visited the Mount Saint Mary’s campus for a couple of days and after discussions with assistant coach Will Holland and the other basketball staff committed to a four year basketball scholarship at ‘The Mount’.
Mount St Mary’s, known as the Mountaineers, are the defending Northeast Conference champions after winning its fifth conference title in 2016/17. Head coach Jamion Christian recently signed a multi-year contract extension after guiding the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament twice in five years.
Brayden is keen to thank a number of people who have helped him fulfill his ambition of playing in the States.
“Obviously I need to thank mum (Anna) and also Kenny Stone who has coached me since I was 11. Other than this year he has done most the work with me and the teams I have played for.
“Recently John Hunt has been really supportive, Vince Minjares has helped me ensuring my paperwork and eligibility and that side of things was in order and Kevin Braswell has been huge. He is the one that lined up Mount St Mary’s and has been working with me on the practice court since I left school last year.”
Braswell has no doubt that Brayden has the attitude and ability to thrive at Mount Saint Mary’s.
“I don’t know too many players that would have kept working through the injuries and setbacks that Brayden has had.
“I think that once he is away from New Zealand and immersed in the Mountaineers programme he will do really well and he will take his game to a new level,” added Braswell.
Brayden joins 2017 Under 19 representative teammates Dan Fotu (St Mary’s College) and James Moors (Drake University) to have accepted NCAA Division 1 scholarships for next year.
The message from Brayden to other young players wishing to pursue their basketball dreams is simple.
“I had been thinking about going to college since Year 10 but initially believed it was out of my reach. But then I saw other players getting signed up and thought I could do it.
“Keep going, don’t give up and keep working hard.”
That hard work has certainly paid off for Brayden. All at Harbour Basketball wish him well on the next stage of his basketball journey.