Isaac Letoa - Rising Basketball Star
Friday, 30 June 2017
Isaac Letoa - New Basketball Star
Another Kiwi is starting his basketball dream in the USA.
SCHOLARSHIP MEDIA RELEASE
Full name: Isaac Kobe Letoa
Date of Birth: 2 August 1998
Height: 185cm (6"1)
Playing Position: Point Guard
Home town: Wellington/Auckland
Home Club/Association: North Harbour
School you attended in NZ: Wellington College and Westlake Boys High School
Provincial and National teams you have represented:
Wellington > U13 2007-2010, U15 2011 & 2012, U17 2013
Auckland > U17 2014, U19 2015 (DNP 2016)
New Zealand > U16 2014, U17 2014, U18 2014, 3x3 2016, JTB 2016
College you have signed to: Dartmouth College
Division: NCAA Division 1
Full name of College Team Coach: Coach David McLaughlin
Agency used: Signed up to Custom College Recruiting
Dartmouth Class of 2021 link:
What does the scholarship cover?
The offer covers full tuition, accommodation and food costs, 50% of the international student insurance package and 1.5k yearly travel contribution. Ivy League schools don’t do sport or academic scholarships so this offer isn’t tied to my health or performance playing basketball, and is for the duration of the 4 years. Also, every Dartmouth Student has to contribute 3k US to their tuition by working (international students can work on campus which is what I'll do) or taking out a loan in their own name.
Who would you like to acknowledge and why?
Without question my family deserves full acknowledgment. My father has been closely involved having been a coach and a mentor throughout the majority of my life. Jordan, my older brother, has had a similar role in my life. But uniquely he helped to install a competitive spirit in me. Getting beaten in nearly everything we competed in, you learn to hate losing. My Mother has very much had a behind the scenes impact that she doesn’t really get credit for; she has worked extremely hard to support my goals whether they’re basketball-related or not.
All my extended family and many friends who have contributed so much to fundraisers and in many other ways over the years. I wouldn’t have got this far if it weren’t for them helping me get overseas to be seen.
Shawn Beck who took the time to organised the initial contact and endorse me as a person which led to this opportunity.
Wellington College and Westlake Boys High School for preparing me academically, supporting my basketball and encouraging me to take leadership opportunities. Also the Westlake Old Boys Association (the Westlakers) for their support and encouragement.
Judd Flavell and Mike Fitchett in their roles as Breakers Academy coaches for shaping me as a player, encouraging me as person and putting me forward for consideration to overseas Nike NBA and Adidas Nations camps.
John Hunt from the North Harbour Association for the great Rep programme he runs on the Shore and his support of me and my family over the last 3 years.
BBNZ for providing opportunities to compete at a high level from Korus, to NZ age groups, 3x3 and now JTBs.
The many coaches I have had over the years - I have learnt something from each one.
Right at the moment I want to acknowledge Kevin Braswell who is really pushing me at Saints Training and helping me to prepare for College ball.
Were you considering other colleges?
Yes, but when the Ivy League schools came knocking I dropped all thoughts of the others as I knew that this opportunity was too good to pass up.
Why did you choose this college?
researched and realised pretty quickly that a degree from an Ivy League school could open up so many doors in the future. Their Alumni system is so well respected in the States and in many parts of the world. I felt like I would never regret this choice. Of the East Coast Ivies that approached, we looked at their rosters and researched the coaches and thought Dartmouth would be a good fit. They're also Div 1 but I wasn't too worried about that, a good Div 2 would have been OK as well.
What will you study at college?
Engineering (papers relating to Product/Industrial Design)
Where will you be living there?
In a dorm on campus. Over 90% of the students live on campus which is apparently quite rare and also makes the atmosphere pretty good. Your name is drawn 'out of a hat' and you’re placed into a dorm 'cluster' like a high school house group. You stay within that cluster of dorms for the rest of your college years although some choose to move in to fraternity and sorority houses. I won't necessarily be with any of the basketball team in my freshman year so will get to meet plenty of other people.
Will you be playing or red-shirting in your first year?
How did you get in to basketball? And what do you love about it?
I started playing basketball for a Chinese association called Dragons in the Hutt about age 3. I guess just like all sports I like basketball for its competitive nature. You play to win.
Who contacted you first from your chosen college and how did they hear about you?
We first heard from Dartmouth's Assistant Coach Peter Hutchins. Dad spoke to Coach Shawn Beck who's daughter Stella plays at St Mary's in California. Dad was just hoping to get an introduction to the St Mary's men’s team coach. Shawn found out that I was already on their radar and gave me an endorsement. St Mary’s, hearing that my academics were pretty good, also passed the information on to Stanford. Apparently the Ivy League schools discuss players with each other and soon the East Coast Ivies started emailing Dad - so it's all thanks to Shawn Beck's initial endorsement. It really was a case of networking and passing on information.
Did you have a plan to ensure you were seen by college scouts and coaches? If so, what events/pathway did you choose to maximise your exposure?
Yes, we joined CCR after hearing them talk as a guest of North Harbour Basketball and I did one trip to Las Vegas with an NZBA team coached by Carl Stent. I chose to try for selection in the NZ U18 3x3 over some other opportunities with exposure in mind and because Tai Wynyard was in the team and was high profile, I got some footage through that. But the main thing was working really hard during the year at Breakers Academy sessions to earn a recommendation to the Asia Pacific Nike camps and the US Adidas Nations camp. The US coaches really respect those camps and know that you have to earn your place to get there. I was starting 5 in the Australasia Adidas Nations team that competed in California with the top 80 US high school kids so got some good footage out of those experiences. Mum put together a profile PDF which pooled links and photos of these experiences together in one document.
The other main thing that I did from Year 11 is listen to Mark Jackson from Westlake, Judd, Fitch and others about the education requirements for getting in to a US College. I took the right subjects from early on and quickly learned how to balance sport and schoolwork. While I often had to prioritise my education first, I realised it's just a sacrifice you have to make sometimes to get the best grades you can. That definitely paid off.
What do you hope to get out of your College experience?
To make the most of this fantastic opportunity; gain an Ivy League degree, contacts for life and of course, some competitive basketball.
What is your basketball aspiration?
I’ve always aspired to play the sport professionally - wherever my talents/ability takes me.
What is your best basketball memory (apart from signing)?
Beating Australia last year in the FIBA World Champs Qualifying tournament.
What social media channels can the public follow you on?
Isaac Letoa on facebook and isaac_letoa on Instagram. Dartmouth Sport on facebook.