Category: Press Release

Hawks to be led by new GM


Issued: 20th July, 2022 – Immediate Release

To our Corporate Partners, Season Members, Fans and Friends of the Program,

We’d like to inform you of some recent changes at the club.

Recently our current General Manager and Head Coach Mick Downer accepted a coaching role back in the Australian NBL commencing after our season. I’m aware it was a very difficult decision for he and his family to make as they love it here in the Bay, but it’s one that we understand and support. Mick has done a great job in the dual roles and the club is in a very healthy position commercially. Mick has stepped down as the General Manager of the club but he will continue in his role as Head Coach as we make a charge for the playoffs and ultimately championship success. The club will review the coaching role at the completion of the season in regards to next season.

 “I want to extend my sincere thanks to Keith, the board, our patrons, staff, players and fans for their support. An opportunity arose recently and it’s one that will allow me to pursue my passion of coaching. The change in GM leadership will allow the club to continue to grow from strength to strength, and allow me to focus solely on the coaching of the team as we enter the business end of the season, “ Mick Downer.

 The Taylor Hawks are excited to announce Andi Leydesdorff as the new General Manager, Andi will commence her role next week and she is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for the Taylor Hawks.

“I am excited about this opportunity to be apart of the Taylor Hawks family, and look forward to meeting all the great people involved within the organisation in due course.”

Andi has an extensive background in sport as a leading administrator in a variety of roles but most noticeably her role as the former Hockey Community Manager of Hawkes Bay Hockey gives her a strong connection and understanding of the sports landscape here in Hawkes Bay.

“We welcome Andi to the Hawks family and look forward to her leadership of the club moving forward. She’s a highly skilled operator and we are excited about her building upon the work Mick has done and taking us into the future. Our initial discussions around her vision for the club and the supporting strategies are impressive and completely aligned with the direction we want to go.”

Ngā mihi | Kind Regards,


Keith Price

Board Chair

New import set to help Hawks Soar


“Hawks Bolster the big man department with athletic Agee touching down in the Bay.”

The search for a player to help the Hawks post stocks has concluded with talented, athletic and versatile post Tajuan Agee joining the team. A native of Chicago “Juan” as he is affectionally known just touched down in the Bay, dropped his luggage, met the team and joined the group for the trip to the South Island.

Agee has recently completed a stint in the highly regarded German Pro A league with Rasta Vechta, after joining them with a 2-7 record, his impact helped the team finish the season strongly at 16-16. This stint in Germany followed a rookie season in Europe for club Balkan who played in the FIBA Euro Cup and Basketball Champions league and the domestic Bulgarian league, where Agee averaged 12 pts & 8 rebs in 21 mins of play.

“What really stood out was how mature and easy to talk to Juan was in the recruiting process. He understands team dynamics and has played on deep rosters, so he is happy to play whatever role is required for us to be successful. Speaking with his coach from Germany they were wrapped with what he brought to the locker room and court and wouldn’t hesitate to have him back (always a good sign). Once over the jet lag and with a few weeks with the group we’re really looking forward to what Juan can bring.” Coach Mick Downer

“After hearing the team reached the finals in recent years I jumped at the opportunity knowing it is a great team and to be that piece that can help win it all by playing my role. I’ve played with veteran teams before, and hope that I can be that energy guy that lifts the team,” Agee added.

3 Quick Facts about Tajuan Agee:

  1. The eldest of 6 siblings
  2. Love’s animals and asked if NZ has any spiders
  3. I have Jamaican heritage

2021/22 Highlights:
Career Statistics:

Albertsen ready to soar with Hawks

Versatile guard Derek Albertsen will bring his talents and leadership to the Taylor Hawks in 2022 and will re-unite with coach, and several team mates after playing last year for the Rams. “DA” as he is known throughout the NBL, is a popular, hard-working, sharp shooting guard who will add depth to the Hawks back court this season.
Derek Albertsen HIGHLIGHTS

The 27 year old dipped his toes in the water a decade ago as a teenager training with the Airs, then Nuggets before playing a few seasons back in home town Taranaki. DA then relocated to Christchurch to concentrate on a flourishing personal training career, while continuing to play in the strong Canterbury club scene. Strong performances in the 3×3 format also sees him highly ranked on the national stage. A return to the NBL was halted due to Covid in 2020 but Albertsen returned in 2021 for the Rams and played a key role off the bench, with great impact leading the reserve squad. It this leadership, mixed with a hard-work, talent and a great understanding of the game which was a big part of the recruitment process for the Hawks coach.

Derek is one of those guys that you’re just happy to go in to battle with. He brings an infectious energy, is a great motivator and leader for all players, and in the community with our rangatahi. He has a great understanding of the game and plays like a coach on the floor.”

Albersten shares his passion for wanting to come to Bay by stating, “I’m super excited for this opportunity to come to this successful franchise and have my input in the team. To be playing alongside old team mates and friends while also playing for Mick again, let’s get to work.”

Hawks secure new leadership under international coach

“Taylor Hawks to Soar Under New Leadership in 2022”

Hawke’s Bay, Nov 11th 2021 – It’s been a busy and fruitful off season for the Taylor Hawks. The club has made some key changes to both our front office and court side leadership.
We aim to further capitalise on the teams recent on court successes, and improve the capacity to help foster growth within the Bay’s basketball community with this exciting appointment.

Full Media Release Here – MD MEDIA RELEASE

Angus Brandt

Press Release: Hawks sign Angus Brandt

The Taylor Bay Hawks are delighted to announce the signing of Australian Boomers’ centre Angus Brandt for the 2018 New Zealand NBL season.

Brandt, a 28 year old from Sydney, plays currently for the defending ANBL champion Perth Wildcats. Last season he was instrumental in their run to the championship, appearing in all 33 games for the Wildcats in 2016-17, averaging 6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists for the season. He saved his best for the biggest stage averaging 10 points per game in the final series versus Illawarra, including 15 points and 11 rebounds in a game 2 victory as he stepped up in the absence of an injured Matt Knight.

This outstanding performance saw the 208 centimetres Brandt named to the Australian Boomers 20-man squad for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup. Following an arduous month long trial process he was selected in the 12 to travel to Lebanon. Australia would go undefeated at the tournament on their way to the gold medal, eliminating the New Zealand Tall Blacks in the semi-final. Brandt retained his spot in the Boomers’ 12 for the World Cup qualifying window in November and is once again in line for selection for the February qualifying window. The Boomers are currently undefeated in their bid to qualify. Previously Brandt had represented Australia in 2014 in a series versus China. In 2011 he represented Australia at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China.

Prior to signing with the Perth Wildcats, Brandt graduated from Blaxland High School in the Blue Mountains on the outskirts of Sydney. From there, in 2008, he spent a season playing high school basketball for Lake Forest Academy in Illinois.

He was able to earn a scholarship to Oregon State University in the prestigious Pac-12 Conference, which includes the likes of UCLA, Arizona and Stanford. Brandt enjoyed an extremely successful five year stint at Oregon State, both on and off the court. He was twice named to the Pac-12 All-Academic Team, recognising the top student-athletes in the conference. On court he was extremely productive, culminating in his senior season in 2013-14, when he averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 30 starts for the Beavers.

Brandt spent the first two years of his professional career with his hometown Sydney Kings in the ANBL. In 2014-15 he won ANBL Rookie of the Year honours.

Following the conclusion of the Kings’ 2016 season Brandt signed in the competitive Lithuanian first league, helping his team Neptunas to the finals, where they would lose to European powerhouse Zalgiris.

Brandt has also had short stints playing alongside his brother Louis with the Penrith Panthers in the Waratah League (Australian second tier league).  

With the Taylor Hawks having assembled an outstanding cast of New Zealand perimeter players and a tremendous veteran centre in Kareem Johnson, an accomplished centre of Brandt’s calibre is the ideal fit. “Brandt was on the top of our spreadsheet of potential import centres from the get go,” says Taylor Hawks’ Head Coach Zico Coronel. “We are familiar with him from the ANBL and two current Taylor Hawks Jarrod Kenny, his current team mate in Perth, and Dion Prewster, his former team mate with the Sydney Kings, spoke very highly of him as a person. Angus continues to grow as a player, he is not satisfied with his considerable success to date, and he will come to the Hawke’s Bay hungry to work hard and continue to improve. We anticipate that he will fit right in with the culture we are building and will enhance it with his contribution. General Manager Kevin Wagg deserves credit for the hard work he has invested in securing Brandt’s signature.”  

The Taylor Hawks season commences on April 26th when Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale will play host to the visiting Southland Sharks, in what promises to be an enthralling match-up.


Ethan Rusbatch

Press Release: Hawks sign Ethan Rusbatch

The Taylor Hawks are pleased to announce the signing of Tall Black wing Ethan Rusbatch for the 2018 National Basketball League season.

The 25 year old Rusbatch has been a Tall Black squad member since 2015 when he was selected in the squad for the Oceania qualifying series against Australia. He made his on court debut for the Tall Blacks at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon. He previously represented New Zealand in a number of age group teams including the Junior Tall Blacks.

The product of Cashmere High in Christchurch played one season at Lincoln Trail Community College in Illinois before commencing his professional career. Rusbatch has played for a number of professional teams in his young career. In 2012 he played for the Southland Sharks, before going on to play for the Taranaki Mountain Airs (2013), and Canterbury Rams, where he spent the last four years. In 2017 he averaged 12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game for the Rams, who reached the semi-finals.

Rusbatch was a development player for the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian NBL for the 2016-17 season.

This will be Rusbatch’s first season with the Taylor Hawks. Taylor Hawks’ Head Coach Zico Coronel is excited about the prospect of working with Rusbatch. “Ethan is exactly the type of person we want as a part of our Hawks Whanau. He is a goal driven young man who works hard in the pursuit of those goals. He is extremely committed to breaking into the Australian NBL or another international league and solidifying a regular place in the Tall Blacks. He has studied the game intensively and developed a high basketball IQ. His shooting ability is well established at NBL level. We envisage Ethan going from strength to strength with us in the Hawke’s Bay!”

Rusbatch further solidifies an encouraging Kiwi core for the Taylor Hawks. Previously announced signings include Tall Black and Perth Wildcats point guard Jarrod Kenny, long term Tall Black Everard Bartlett, Dion Prewster – currently enjoying a successful season in Germany, newly minted Tall Black squad member and Breakers development player Mitch Newton and NZ Maori international representative Hyrum Harris, formerly of the Supercity Rangers. Bay stalwart Kareem Johnson will also be back in 2018. He and Bartlett remain from the 2006 Hawks that won the franchise’s first championship.

The Taylor Hawks are in the process of signing high level imports to supplement the Kiwi core. An impressive group of development players is also coming to fruition.

In addition, Taylor Hawks’ Chairman Keith Price, who is also a Napier City councillor, has been elected by the teams to the NBL Board. This was a heavily contested position with some illustrious candidates so it is a reflection of Price’s tremendous work rebuilding the Taylor Hawks’ standing that he was elected.

The Taylor Hawks will open their season at home at Pettigrew Green Arena on April 26th versus the Southland Sharks.