Pupils to rub shoulders with Nuggets

Otago Nuggets small forward Matthew Pyper works out at the new high-performance training facility...
Otago Nuggets small forward Matthew Pyper works out at the new high-performance training facility at King’s High School yesterday. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH
Boys at Dunedin’s King’s High School will get a close-up look at what it takes to rise above the rim this year.

The brand new King’s High School high-performance space is also the new training facility for the Otago Nuggets.

Nuggets high-performance manager Mike Spencer said the space "ticked all the boxes" for the National Basketball League team.

Mr Spencer said he first heard of the space from a teacher at the school last year and as the Nuggets’ previous training facility was closing, he approached the school.

There was a range of equipment on offer, which suited players’ individual needs, but it was the variety and space that made the facility a good fit, he said.

"We need an area where we can distribute the athletes, because everyone does have slightly different needs.

"We need space where we can have multiple pieces happening."

At present, during preseason, there was an emphasis on conditioning, which the facility could also accommodate.

There would be opportunities for pupils to watch players train, see how they went about their business "and what it takes to be a professional athlete".

"This is the creme de la creme of basketball players in Otago and it’s a great opportunity for young students, who may be aspiring basketball players, to actually see how these guys work and see what it takes to be at this level, as well."

King’s High School rector Nick McIvor said the high-performance space, completed late last year, was fitted out with about $100,000 worth of equipment for this, its first year of use.

What was previously a small, ageing gymnasium space, used largely as overflow court space, was redeveloped, including adding a reinforced floor.

Mr McIvor said that when he was approached by the Nuggets he simply said "you’re welcome — come and use the space. In return it would be great if you could work with our boys in some way".

The boys at the school would look up to the basketball players both physically and metaphorically, he said.

"What we have here are some outstanding role models."