Emme Shearer signs for Portland

Emme Shearer is the latest Harbour player to be offered an NCAA Division I basketball scholarship.

The Harbour U19 and Harbour Breeze representative has been recruited by the University of Portland for the next four years.

If the Portland coaching staff were recruiting on Emme’s achievements in 2019 they would have been mightily impressed.

It is no exaggeration to say that Emme had a phenomenal year: 

  • Named MVP at the U19 National Championships after guiding Harbour to the title.
  • Named to the Tournament team at the Secondary Schools National Championships where Westlake finished 4th.
  • Played every game for Harbour Breeze in the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) averaging 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in her rookie season. The Breeze finished runners-up in the WBC.
  • Played for the New Zealand team at the FIBA U18 3x3 Asia Cup in Malaysia.
  • Her strong showing in all of the above competitions earned Emme a call-up into the Tall Ferns wider training group at just 17-years of age.

If that list of achievements impresses how about adding her Volleyball successes:

  • Named MVP at the Secondary Schools Volleyball National Championships where Westlake defended their title.
  • Represented NZ U18 Team at a high performance tournament in Florida.

Good enough to have the option of seeking either a basketball or volleyball scholarship Emme eventually had to make a choice between the two sports.

“I left it until the very last moment. I was in the States last July playing for the New Zealand Junior National team at the High Performance Champs. 

“When I got back from that Club Volleyball Nationals were scheduled for the same time as the Secondary Schools Basketball Nationals. It came down to the fact that if I didn’t play club volleyball I would be unlikely to play a good level of volleyball for another six months.

Fortunately Emme chose basketball.

“It really came down to the fact that there were more opportunities in basketball. The chances of going to the Commonwealth Games, a World Cup or the Olympics are much higher in basketball than volleyball.”

The offer from Portland came a couple of weeks ago and Emme was quick to sign as the style of baketball the Pilots like to play suites her game game.

“Transition basketball is my game.” 

“Also they have a great team culture and I can’t wait to be part of that,” she enthused.

“I’m really looking forward to being in a different environment, meeting new people and my teammates, learning from new coaches and being in a new country and to make the most of the opportunities that come my way.”

Harbour U19 Women’s Head Coach Sonny Tuaputa believes that Emme will thrive in the Pilots environment.

“She is a very gifted athlete blessed with pace, agility and the ability to elevate. 

“Emme is also a quick learner who I feel will benefit from being in a successful Division I programme under the tutorage of Coach Meek and his staff. The Pilots are coming off an outstanding season so Emme will be joining a confident, talented team.

“She has the potential to have an excellent college career,” added Sonny.

Portland enjoyed an outstanding campaign in 2018-19 when they put together a 21-11 record which culminated in the Pilots winning the West Coast Conference title. It was the first WCC championship won by the Pilots since 1994.

Unfortunately the NCAA Tournament was cancelled due to the COVID 19 pandemic so the Pilots were denied the opportunity to test themselves against the best Division I teams in the land.

Emme will leave New Zealand in the coming weeks with fond memories of teams and individuals who have helped her achieve her ambition of going to play in the States.

“Being invited into the Tall Ferns training squad for the Olympic Qualifiers last year was definitely a highlight.

“Winning U19 Nationals for Harbour is a fond memory also, just because it was with a group of girls I’ve played with for a long time and possibly the last time we will get to play together.

“In high school basketball finally beating AGGS in the Auckland Secondary Schools Champs, after a whole season of losing to them in 2018, was a pretty good moment. Also in 2018 a buzzer beating win against MAGS at Secondary Schools Nationals was another highlight.

There have been a number of individuals who have helped Emme develop as a player but she reserves special mention for Jody Cameron and Justine Reed.

“Jody was the first really influential coach I had when I was in Year 10 and I ended up getting a lot of minutes and playing with older players which really gave me the confidence to play at that level. It also made me realise I could go a fair way in the game.

“Justine, especially in the last couple of years, has helped me so much in being successful getting to America.

“Both of them have given me a lot of encouragement.”

Another person that Emme really appreciates and respects is Tall Fern, and Breeze teammate, Penina Davidson.

"Penina is my favourite Tall Fern. Last year she kind of took me under her wing helping me cope with playing at the highest level I had ever experienced whilst playing for the Breeze and attending the tall Ferns Camp. She was really, really supportive and helped me a lot."

Despite all her success in the last couple of years it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Emme.

“I missed out on selection for a few teams in my earlier representative days. A big disappointment was missing selection for the U17 World Cup - I was really upset when I missed out on that.

“It’s definitely hard not making teams but I then realised that when I did get a chance I needed to make the most of it. Every minute you get on court you need to do the best you can.”

Emme means to take that attitude with her to Oregon knowing the Pilots only had one senior leave ahead of this season so playing opportunities may be hard to come by.

“It will be hard but I’m looking forward to going over and competing for minutes, it isn’t a challenge I’m afraid of.”

Emme won’t be the only Kiwi on the University of Portland basketball programme as former Waitakere and Auckland Grammar standout Taki Fahrensohn is a sophomore on the Men’s team.

In addition Emme is likely to see some New Zealand faces when West Coast Conference games get underway at the end of the year. Waikato’s Kaylee Smiler is at BYU whilst Tall Fern and Manawatu forward Amy West is at St Mary’s. Also playing for St Mary’s Gaels is Emme’s friend and Harbour U19 teammate Tayla Dalton.

We will all have the meeting between the Pilots and the Gaels marked in our diaries once the fixtures are announced, it will be a game not to miss.

Go well Emme!


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