clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tai Wynyard leads New Zealand to FIBA U19 win (video)

Wynyard put on a show and looks like he could make a nice impact for UK next season.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

UK forward Tai Wynyard led New Zealand to win over South Korea in the opening game for both teams in the FIBA World Cup behind held in Egypt.

The 6-10, 250-pound Wynyard was 10-of-11 from the field and scored 16 points in the fourth quarter of a tight game. He also had 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal in just 19 minutes of play. He finished with a total of 22 points.

Wynyard, who played just 54 minutes all last season for the Cats, scored 11 points and had 13 rebounds all year. With play of this type it appears he may step up and get more playing time next season.

He is easily overlooked in the parade of 5-star recruits coming to town, but perhaps that is a mistake. If Wynyard keeps playing like he did Saturday, it will certainly open some eyes.

Wynyard's improved play has not gone unnoticed by coach John Calipari. He recently had this to say about his player via the Courier Journal:

"It's not where they start, and I told Tai, 'What did you learn?' What did you learn about this year? What did you learn about yourself?'" Calipari said. "And we went through things on the court. We went through things off the court. We went through things that he now knows to be successful he's going to have to do. I left that meeting feeling so good because Tai Wynyard's gotten better. He didn't have a lot of opportunities. In the Georgia game, couple other games, he didn't have a whole lot of opportunities, but, man, has he gotten better."

UK has a very deep set of forwards on the team for next season. Incoming 5 start recruits who play that position include Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt.

Returning players at that position include Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones in addition to Wynyard. That’s a lot of talent at that position. But last year’s guard who was the number 5 player at his position on the depth chart found enough playing time to earn a spot on a NBA summer league squad. If the talent is there Calipari will find a way to use it.

The New Zealand team meets highly-rated France on Monday morning, and follows up with their final group game against Argentina.