Taipans welcome Sam Mennenga
The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans have signed rising New Zealand star Sam Mennenga, with the versatile 6’9” forward forgoing his senior year at college to play for two seasons under Coach of the Year, Adam Forde.
Mennenga was touted as one of New Zealand’s most promising basketball players during high school and selected the distinguished Davidson College over 30 other offers from US schools, on a full scholarship.
As a redshirt freshman, he averaged 6.0 points and 5.0 rebounds to improve to 8.4. points and 5.3 rebounds as a sophomore, shooting at 46 per cent from three and reaching the NCAA tournament. In his junior year, he started in all 32 games and averaged 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds.
“This is a big get. Sam maintains our direction of bringing in young, high character guys with high level talent,” said Coach Forde.
“From a team perspective, we know we need to address some deficiencies in our offence. Sam does exactly this and adds another element to our style of play which we haven’t had before."
Last year, Mennenga represented New Zealand at the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup and in his Tall Blacks debut, led the team in scoring (21 points, nine rebounds) with a 100-47 win over India.
He was also named to the Basketball Without Borders Global team at the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in North Carolina and the World Select team at the 2019 NBA Academy Games in Atlanta.
"He is tough and athletic which makes him an effective scorer around the rim. A robust, back-to-the-basket post-threat that can also knock it down from range.
“The pairing of him and Sam Waardenburg makes for a pretty cool big man duo,” said Forde.
“I’m excited for this off-season as we look to change up our playbook to capitalise on their strengths."
Forde emphasised the maturity of the 21-year-old rookie, that brings all the necessary Taipans traits to the team.
“The mental approach Sam has to basketball is very impressive.
“Everyone we contacted described his tireless work ethic and his desire to be great.
“That is something we strive for here at the Taipans. Sam has lofty goals, and so he should - he’s going to be fantastic.”
2023-24 CQUniversity Cairns Taipans Roster
- Tahjere McCall
- Sam Waardenburg
- Jonah Antonio
- Lat Mayen
- Sam Mennenga