Rangiora teen scores basketball scholarship in US


A spark of interest ignited as a child has led to a United States college basketball scholarship for Rangiora teen Ashlyn Rean.

The spark grew while Ashlyn was watching her big sister Jasmin play basketball.

Now the former Rangiora High School student has secured a full-ride scholarship, which covers all living and college costs and any other associated costs, to play basketball and study nutrition and dietetics at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Ashlyn, 18, arrived in the Alaskan winter two weeks ago and is still adjusting to her new environment after leaving the scorching summer behind in Rangiora.

"She went from 34 deg C in Rangiora to -17 deg C in Alaska," said her father Warren Rean.

Ashlyn started playing basketball at Ashgrove Primary School before taking the court at Rangiora High, and playing basketball in the premier women’s grade and New Zealand women’s premier league for Mainland Pouakai.

She secured her scholarship after she was an invitational player for Lincoln University at the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) Cup tournament in Taiwan, which is held annually to celebrate sport cultural exchange and offer university athletes an opportunity to compete on an international stage.

"The UAA were participating in the same tournament," Warren says.

"The coach saw her play and started to pursue her after that asking her coaches at the time all about her while she was in Taiwan."

Ashlyn was also offered and accepted an extra half-year additional scholarship to train and travel with the basketball team before her scholarship starts in August this year.

"At this stage, Ashlyn has committed for one year, but her degree is for four years, so all going well she will be at UAA for four years," Warren says.

"She may come back for the summer and spend it in New Zealand, if not she will stay in Anchorage or go somewhere else. Somewhere warm I am picking."

Ashlyn is hoping to play professional basketball once she finishes her degree.

"She also aspires to play for New Zealand again at the elite level. She represented NZ at U17 level at the world championships," Warren says.

Both Warren and Ashlyn’s mother, Jo Best, are talented sportspeople.

Warren played rugby for Canterbury B and West Coast in the NPC, and Jo played rugby for Canterbury and Leinster in Ireland.

She also competed for NZ at the World Dragonboat Championships in Thailand last year.

By Shelley Topp