Auckland Scoop

Taking It All In His Stride

Press Release – Auckland City Basketball

Twenty days into the U.S. basketball trip of a lifetime and 14 year-old Jackson Kiss is taking it all in his stride.

In mid-December last year Jackson Kiss was offered the opportunity to train for two months in Baltimore, Maryland, a youth basketball hotbed.

After quickly proving his worth Jackson was offered a place on NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony / Malcolm Delaney’s Team Melo MD 23 AAU squad, under the tutelage of local legend Coach Sam Brand. The team is currently ranked 7th in the entire nation for the 8th grade by Coast 2 Coast Preps.

Jackson jumped at the chance, got on a plane with his coach Lindsay Tait, missed Christmas with his family and as soon as he landed, set to work training. That hard work and dedication has gained him the respect of his coaches, offers from U.S schools, time with New Zealand basketball great Steven Adams, and opened the eyes of some of the top talent scouts in the nation.

Jackson’s coming out party was this past weekend’s Made Hoops, East Coast Session 2 tournament against some of the toughest opposition on the globe. His team finished with a 4-0 record, beating teams including Team Durant (Kevin Durant) and Boo Williams (Former alumni include NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson). At the tournament Jackson made the ‘eighth grade stock risers’ list.

Coach Tait says this is the stuff basketball dreams are made of, “Every one of our basketball kids is dreaming of getting this kind of call up. We’ve been building relationships with contacts in the U.S. for a while now through Muhammad Smith and couldn’t be happier it’s coming to fruition, especially for a kid like Jackson. He not only has the athleticism and talent, but also the humility, maturity and work ethic instilled in him by his supportive Tongan Fijian family to walk a path never before travelled by a kid from Auckland, the capital of Polynesia. We have been telling everyone our kids can play with the best on the globe. Jackson is proof.” Says Mr Tait.

Mr Tait first spotted Jackson at a Central Zone Intermediate basketball tournament in 2020, passed on his details and invited his family to bring Jackson to his Central Auckland Silverbacks Skill Sessions, quickly getting to work. Jackson started the 2021 year in a school rugby academy but after winning the championship and Most Valuable Player honours at HoopNation Junior Showcase in April 2021 there was no turning back. Jackson immediately received international interest from his performance upon returning to school at Auckland Grammar.

In December Jackson’s mother Jean Riechelmann was thinking about Christmas, the new year and summer holidays but was pleasantly surprised to then be suddenly organising her son for an international sporting opportunity. “I can’t stop crying to think this opportunity has come up so quickly when he is still so young. My son is over the moon and all of us, his whole family, is so excited that he has this chance to play a sport he loves with the best. We really are so grateful to Auckland City Basketball for this once in a lifetime opportunity” Says Miss Riechelmann.

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