Recently, CoachCal.com was able to sit down with newcomer Tai Wynyard to learn a little bit more about him. As everyone already knows, Wynyard is from New Zealand, where he used to chop wood. Coming in, that’a pretty much all BBN knew of him. That and how he was a talented basketball player. According to him, basketball here compared to New Zealand is totally different.
“It’s a lot more athletic (in America),” Wynyard said last week in an exclusive interview with CoachCal.com. “They run the floor a little more, they’re quicker, they get to spots, the bigs play a lot more like guards compared to New Zealand where they’re just really slow, brut, big, solid dudes. That’s one of the main differences.”
After reading that, it starts to make some sense as to why we haven’t seen him on the court much. That kind of transition takes time, and for him, it exposes his weakness in ways it hasn’t before.
“Nothing is going to be perfect,” he said. “Nothing is really a strength. Everything is a weakness for me right now, so I’m just trying to improve.
“I’m going to get rebounds and set hard screens. … Hopefully I have the opportunity now to get on and prove myself and get some rebounds.”
When discussing his decision to play for Kentucky, he brought up his father’s advice. Looking back at last spring’s Nike Hoop Summit, he played alongside now teammates, Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere. During the Summit he realized that in order for him to improve his game, he has to compete with or against the best.
“My dad always said it’s better to go somewhere bigger where you’re playing against a lot more talent and stuff, even though you’re not going to get on the floor as much,” Wynyard said. “So it’s really just about my game and to get better…..In practice, I’m trying to smash the guys (talking about bringing his physical brand of play to practice),” he said.
Lastly, Wynyard answered how wood-chopping has prepared him for basketball in the US. His response was spot-on.
“Every sport is pretty much the same in the head, you know?” Wynyard said. “You’ve got to get through things. You got to overcome obstacles. It just taught me never to give up. Just keep fighting for what’s yours. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do things. Just try and keep going.”
For the entire interview with Tai Wynyard, follow this link to CoachCal.com. He’s definitely an interesting young man.