Author: Taylor Hawks

“Lavery, another piece to the puzzle”

Since free agency started we have been searching for a hard nosed defensively minded point guard that can run a team. With this in mind we are pleased to announce the signing of Tanae Lavery.

Having attended high school at St. Andrew’s college in Christchurch Lavery earned himself a basketball scholarship to Lincoln University. Lavery has previously been selected to represent Lincoln University and the New Zealand U23 3×3 team, playing tournaments in both Japan and Taiwan.

Taylor Hawks assistant coach Kaine Hokianga said, “Tanae is an exciting young talent and we are extremely happy he is joining the Hawks for the 2024 season. His development within the Lincoln University basketball programme over the past few years was rewarded with a spot on the Taranaki Schick 3×3 Cup team in 2023. He has certainly earned the opportunity to test his skill at the NZNBL level and we look forward to seeing him  succeed in Hawkes Bay.

Lavery is a dynamic player with the ball in hand who has the ability to get into the paint, where he can finish with both hands, or create opportunities for his team mates. He makes solid reads off the dribble and out of pick and rolls. Lavery has a hard nosed attitude and competes on every possession. With a defensively minded approach to the game, Hawks fans are going to enjoy watching him leave it all out on court this season. 

“Tanae is a great kid, he turns up early, works hard and does it with a great attitude. He’s slotted right in and has found his feet quickly here in Hawke’s Bay. The intent he plays the game with on both ends is exciting to watch,” states Taylor Hawks General Manager Jarrod Kenny.

Lavery now joins Taylor Hawks team mates Isaiah Moore,  Jackson Ball, Jacob Murphy, Jordan Ngatai, Josh Roberts, Keanu Rasmussen and Kobe Kara, with more announcements soon to follow. 

Murphy Renews Commitment for 2024!

The Taylor Hawks are proud to announce the signing of Jacob Murphy for the 2024 SalsNBL. Murphy, a product of the Hawke’s Bay Basketball system, is a remarkable athlete known for his speed and quickness on the court. Taylor Hawks General Manager Jarrod Kenny expressed his anticipation, stating, “I’m looking forward to seeing Jacob perform this season. With the direction we’ve set as an organisation, Jacob plays a pivotal role in our success. Rapid League will give Jacob an exciting opportunity to prove himself and to continue to develop his game”.

Murphy is back for his fourth straight season with the Hawks, bringing valuable experience despite his youth at 21. As an experienced member of the team, Jacob’s time with the Hawks speaks volumes about his dedication, commitment, and on-court development. With each passing season, Jacob continues to evolve and refine his skills, becoming an increasingly integral asset to the team’s success.

Murphy’s commitment to excellence extends beyond the basketball court. In addition to his endeavours with the Hawks, he is deeply engaged in his plumbing apprenticeship, showcasing a commendable work ethic and determination to excel in multiple domains. Despite the demands of balancing athletic pursuits with career aspirations, he has demonstrated the ability to do both successfully. His ability to seamlessly juggle his basketball career with his apprenticeship underscores his maturity and discipline.

This year, with the introduction of the Rapid League, Murphy will have an unprecedented opportunity to contribute his skills and expertise to the team’s success. As the league evolves and intensifies, Jacob’s dynamic playing style and natural abilities will undoubtedly shine. 


“From what I’ve seen of Jacob I really like. His ability to be able to defend the ball in the full court, then get out and run the lanes in transition is going to be a big part of our identity as a team. Having someone who does this naturally will only make us better”, said Taylor Hawks Head Coach Sam Gruggen.


As we eagerly anticipate the unfolding of another exhilarating season, Jacob’s continued growth and contributions promise to be a source of excitement and inspiration for fans and teammates alike.

Moore poise and direction for the Hawks

The Hawks are proud to  announce the addition of dynamic guard Isaiah Moore, adding poise, skill, and a winning mentality to the roster. With an impressive track record and a passion for the game, Moore is set to make an immediate impact on and off the court for the Taylor Hawks.

Taylor Hawks Head Coach Sam Gruggen said, “We are thrilled to sign Isaiah as we feel with the team we have put together so far he fits perfectly in with our style and the direction. Every person we spoke to about Isaiah spoke highly of his character and ability to lead a team and pick up in the full court. He is a very unselfish PG who can create for others through his ability to attack the basket plus his ability to defend multiple positions.”

Standing tall at 6 foot 1 inches, Isaiah Moore previously showcased his talents with the South Alabama Jaguars and the Iowa Wolves. Moore brings professional experience and a hunger for success to the Taylor Hawks. His journey to the Hawks follows a standout college career at South Alabama, where he solidified his status as a standout player.

During his tenure at South Alabama, Moore left an indelible mark on the program, averaging an impressive 18.9 points, 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per contest. His leadership on the court propelled the Jaguars to new heights, with Moore leading the team in scoring and contributing significantly to the team’s offensive punch..

General Manager Jarrod Kenny states his excitement for Moore joining the upcoming season roster. “It was important to us as an organisation that we found the right person to lead the team from the point guard position. Isaiah comes highly recommended not just for his on court ability but also his work ethic and drive to better his game. ”

Moore’s signing with Hawke’s Bay’s Taylor Hawks marks a new chapter in his basketball journey, and fans can expect nothing short of electrifying performances and memorable moments from this talented guard.

Taylor Hawks Slam Dunk National League Basketball into Wairoa!

The Taylor Hawks are gearing up to deliver a thrilling experience with the National League Basketball hitting Wairoa. On March 9th, the Hawks will not only run a clinic for tamariki and rangatahi but will also face off against the Tauranga Whai in two action-packed exhibition games.

Basketball fever in our northern region base of Wairoa has been on the rise, with participation rates increasing and a growing cohort of passionate Hawks supporters. Recognising this, the aim is to connect with fans who can’t make it to Napier for regular season games by bringing the Taylor Hawks directly to them.

“Playing a preseason game in Wairoa gives us a chance to test out the new NBL season format being introduced for 2024, but more importantly it’s an opportunity for us to connect with our regional community and supporters,” says Taylor Hawks General Manager Jarrod Kenny.

On March 9th, a skills clinic for local youngsters is scheduled to take place at Standring Park on Black Street, commencing at midday and concluding at 1:30 pm. Facilitated by the Taylor Hawks coaching staff and players, the clinic will encompass skill development, drills, and interactive games. This event also presents an excellent opportunity for the youth of Wairoa to meet their favourite players.

The new NBL format gives spectators two separate games each game day. Rapid League games will run prior to the SalsNBL. Wairoa will be the first Hawke’s Bay spectators to experience this double-header format with the Rapid League exhibition game commencing at 3.00 pm and the SalsNBL exhibition at 4.00 pm. A signing session will be held for fans to get signatures and photos following. 

While the Taylor Hawks look to engage more across the region, they are quick to acknowledge it takes support to add extra games like these. Taylor Hawks Chair Sally Crown adds, “We would like to thank Wairoa District Council and Sport Hawke’s Bay for their assistance in helping us bring the game to town and making both the clinics and entry to the games free.”

American centre to take Hawks centre stage.

Adding another piece to the team puzzle the Taylor Hawks announce the signing of American centre Josh Roberts to their 2024 lineup. Roberts brings athleticism, energy and an impressive field goal percentage.  Playing with Hawks Head Coach, Sam Gruggen, and the Cairns Taipans he is shooting the ball at 67 percent from the field.  

Born and Raised in Troy, Alabama, Roberts spent his college years in Manhattan, New York. In his senior year at Manhattan College, Roberts showcased his prowess on the court, averaging a career-high 12.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. His stellar performance earned him the prestigious title of Metro Atlantic Athletic Collage (MAAC) Defensive Player of the Year, along with All-MAAC honours. Roberts left an indelible mark on Manhattan College, setting the single-season record with an incredible 70.2 field goal percentage and ranking eighth in school history with 90 career blocks.

Roberts said “I’m very excited to join the Taylor Hawks as I have heard some amazing things about the SalsNBL and in particular Hawke’s Bay itself. The chance to continue developing throughout my professional career is a huge reason as to why I chose the Hawks”. 

Since joining the Taipans, Roberts has had several standout performances including setting a career-high 22 points in a spectacular road win against Melbourne United. Known for his ability to dominate around the rim, attack the basket, and crash the offensive boards, Roberts is poised to become a fan favourite with the Taylor Hawks faithful.

“We are very excited to bring Josh to Hawke’s Bay, not only because he will be a fantastic teammate but because he will be a difficult cover with his above the rim athleticism as well as his defensive capabilities” says Gruggen, Head Coach of the Taylor Hawks.

Roberts, with his infectious energy and relentless hustle, is gearing up to make his mark with the Hawks and elevate the team’s performance in the upcoming season. 

Ball ready to soar after 3×3 Cup success.

Fueled by an outstanding performance in the 3×3 Cup that earned him his spot in the coveted All-Star 4, Jackson Ball is set to make his Taylor Hawks SalsNBL debut. The 15 year old Napier Boys High School student is one of the best young players in the country. Ball is an exceptional talent that has a love for the game and a desire to improve daily. 

Ball’s journey during the 2023 New Zealand 3×3 cup was nothing short of sensational, standing out as a consistent force for the Hawks from start to finish, seeing him placed among the top 10 players in total scoring and delivering game-winning shots. Amidst a whirlwind year, Ball not only led Napier Boys’ in their quest for a National Championship, but also proudly represented New Zealand at the under 15 Asia Pacific Cup, securing a commendable second place.

Jackson’s impressive performance in the 2023 3×3 Cup was a direct result of his work ethic, willingness to learn, and determination to improve. He is an exciting young talent who will no doubt rise to the challenge of the NZNBL,” remarks Assistant Coach Kaine Hokianga.

Taylor Hawks General Manager Jarrod Kenny said, “Jackson has a maturity and understanding of the game well beyond his years. His love for the game and pursuit of excellence is at the point where he needs to be told to stop training and have a rest. I’m looking forward to watching Jackson this season, not only during the Rapid League, but also when his name is called in the SalsNBL.” 

“Becoming a member of the Taylor Hawks has always been a goal of mine, so I feel very excited and privileged to be a part of the team this season. I am determined to use this opportunity to improve myself on and off the court and learn as much as I can from my teammates and my coaches.” Jackson Ball on joining the Taylor Hawks for the 2024 SalsNBL.


Significant strides see Kara rise.

Since joining the Taylor Hawks in 2021 after his final year at Napier Boys, Napier’s own Kobe Kara has made significant strides. His continued commitment to off-season training, personal development and an impressive showing at 2023 3×3 Cup have instilled great confidence in the Taylor Hawks management team.  Assistant Coach Kaine Hokianga says, , “Kobe’s dedication to developing all facets of his game during this off-season has helped to continue the progress he displayed in the 3×3 Cup. We look forward to seeing this progress continue in the 2024 SalsNBL.” 

Proving to be  a  reliable player on both ends of the floor, Kara, 21, is emerging as a considered leader within the Hawks ranks.  “I’m extremely proud of Kobe and what he has accomplished over the past year both on and off the court. To have him on our team as a leader and an example of what hard work and dedication looks like is invaluable for us,” states Hawks General Manager Jarrod Kenny.

Employing an attitude of optimism and willingness to attack every obstacle he comes across has seen his confidence and skills steadily develop each season. The coaching staff is eager to witness Kara’s continued growth and contribution to the team’s success.

“Being from the Bay and being able to represent my home town means alot to me and my family. I’m excited for the season and will make the most of the opportunity I’ve been given,” said Kara.

Exciting Emerging Talent Set to Soar in Hawke’s Bay!

Momentum continues to build in the Hawks camp with the  signing of Keanu Rasmussen. A graduate of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence in 2020, this talented guard is eligible for the 2025 NBA Draft. Known for his scoring prowess, Rasmussen is an athletic guard who excels at shooting and driving to the rim. He also possesses strong playmaking ability, always looking to set up his teammates for success.


“Keanu is a very exciting and talented basketball player. He recently came back from college in America and is currently a Development Player with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australian NBL. Keanu will fit perfectly into our style and he is excited to get to Hawke’s Bay and be a part of the community”, says Coach, Sam Gruggen.


Rasmussen has showcased his skills at various levels, representing South Australia in the under-18 and under-20 Australian National Championships, as well as being a member of the under-20 NBA Global Team. During his time with the Sabres in the Central NBL1 competition in Australia, the 20-year-old guard displayed an impressive stat line, averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Standing at 188 cm with a robust physique, coupled with exceptional quickness and shooting proficiency, Rasmussen is poised to make a significant impact at the NBL level.


Keanu who was born and raised in Adelaide, has New Zealand Citizenship via his father, affording him the opportunity to play as a local. Keanu said “I am super excited to be coming to Hawke’s Bay this season. From talking to the staff throughout the process Hawke’s Bay sounds like a great place for me to develop both on and off the court”.    


“I am thrilled to welcome Keanu to the Hawks for the upcoming 2024 season. We have received a lot of positive feedback from experienced players about Keanu’s ability and his character. Keanu’s talent and his commitment to his development played a pivotal role in our decision to bring him on board,” expressed Jarrod Kenny.


Rasmussen joins Jordan Ngatai as the two Taylor Hawks players signed so far for the 2024 SalsNBL season. Keanu will join the team at the conclusion of the Adelaide 36ers NBL season.


Ngatai returns as centrepiece for Hawks

Since free agency began, the start of when player negotiations are allowed to commence, back in November, Jordan Ngatai’s signature has been a priority for the Hawks. Making the move north for the 2023 season, Ngatai’s addition to the Hawks was as expected. A consummate professional on and off the court, his leadership and the example he sets for our young local talent was a major reason his signature was a key. 


“I felt like I made the best decision for my whānau and me. I’ve worked with Gruggs (Hawks Coach Sam Gruggen) in the past so I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season,” says Ngatai.


Hawks General Manager Jarrod Kenny comments, “Jordan is an exceptional individual, both on and off the court. He embodies the values and attitude that the Hawks aim to represent. As we prioritise nurturing young local talent, having Jordan as a role model is truly invaluable. It allows them to witness firsthand his dedication to training, self-care, and game preparation on a daily basis.”


Ngatai’s performance in 2023 was outstanding. He averaged an impressive 16.8 points per game, doubling his previous season’s record. In a remarkable outing against the Manawatu Jets he scored a career-high 47 points. Ngatai’s success as a premier guard spans over a decade, with four Championships to his name. His exceptional talent was recognised when he was named to the All-Star 5 at the 2020 NBL Showdown, leading the Nuggets to a championship victory. Additionally, he had a successful stint in the Australian NBL, playing eight seasons, including six with the Breakers, where he enjoyed championship success in 2014-15. He has represented the Tall Blacks in over 60 appearances since his debut in 2013. Currently, Ngatai is showcasing his skills in Finland, playing for Tampereen Pyrintö Basketball.


Bringing Ngatai back was a high priority for the club. He upholds our values and really shares in our vision for the club moving forward. The community loved having Ngatai and his family in Hawke’s Bay. I hope the community are just as excited as the club to watch him in this upcoming season”, says Gruggen.


With Ngatai now signed, we look to surround him with quality players with similar characteristics. 

Development the focus for sought after coach, Gruggen

“The Taylor Hawks are thrilled to announce our Head Coach for the Sal’s National Basketball 2024 season, Sam Gruggen. Sam has been involved in basketball for the last two decades, spending time in all aspects of the game. The last three years Gruggen  has been an assistant coach in the NBL for the Sydney Kings and currently with the Cairns Taipans”.

Gruggen, a highly sought after coach, brings a wealth of experience from both a coaching and player development perspective.

Most recently, Sam has spent his time as an assistant coach in the Australian National Basketball League with the Sydney Kings and the Cairns Taipans. He has been a major part of the Taipan’s recent success, helping them become championship contenders last season, only to fall short to eventual winners the Kings.

Gruggen has been a key figure in the development of some of Australia’s best up and coming basketballers. Player development was a key priority in his roles as Head Coach of High Performance at Basketball New South Wales and as the Southern Development Officer at Basketball Tasmania. With proven results of developing players skill sets and their basketball IQ, the Hawks management and governors believe this will be extremely beneficial to not only the team, but to basketball in Hawke’s Bay.

“I’m extremely excited to join Hawke’s Bay Hawks and I’d like to thank Jarrod Kenny and the board for putting their trust in me. Their vision of player development (both in Hawke’s Bay and around New Zealand) along with their commitment to building a successful and hard working roster aligns perfectly with my coaching philosophy. The organisation has been working diligently putting together a roster that has a great mix of young and talented players with experienced veterans. I’m excited to get over to Hawke’s Bay and be a part of this supportive and passionate community,” shares Gruggen.

Taylor Hawks General Manager Jarrod expressed his enthusiasm about Coach. “We are thrilled to have Sam lead our team next season. His drive for excellence in every facet of the game is impressive. We are confident that this characteristic will inspire and elevate our entire team and staff, helping them reach their full potential. Sam’s commitment to player development aligns seamlessly with our vision of building a team that our community is proud of.”