The Auckland Huskies have signed Auckland native Tohi Smith-Milner for 2020 Sal’s NBL Showdown season as a pre-draft selection. Smith-Milner returns to the NZNBL for the first time since 2018 and also returns to play in his home city for the first time since his stint with the Super City Rangers (2014-2015). Smith-Milner also reunites with Auckland Huskies general manager Matt Lacey, the pair having played together at Rosmini College.

At 25 years young the former Waitakere representative brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the new NBL franchise. For almost 5 years he has played a significant role with ANBL team, Melbourne United including winning a Championship with the team in 2018.

To date the power forward has made 39 appearances for the Tall Blacks since debuting in 2014.  His international career has seen him win a Bronze Medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, be part of significant Tall Blacks wins in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China and the huge victory against Australia in Brisbane earlier this year.

Smith Milner, currently undergoing his required 2-week isolation in an Auckland hotel, is expected to get out on Saturday to linkup with family and his Auckland Huskies teammates.

I was able to have a chat to the new Huskie about his excitement in join the new franchise and to return to play in his hometown.

How do you feel about signing with the Huskies?

‘I feel great with knowing who the club has brought in to help this club be successful and be sustainable for many years to come.’

How are you feeling about returning to Auckland to play?

‘It’s exciting to be able to play in my hometown and especially playing games at the Trust (Trusts Arena) which is only 5 minutes down the road from where I grew up and playing reps for Waitakere’.

How does it feel to be reunited with Auckland Huskies General Manager Matt Lacey after all these years?

‘It will be weird not having him on the court with me but at the same time it’s exciting knowing where he wants to take this club and I’m sure he’ll be around for many years.’

What do you think you can bring to the Huskies?

‘I feel like I can bring a lot of leadership and experience. I want to be able to pass on the knowledge that I have learned over the years playing for the Tall Blacks as well as playing in the Australian NBL.’

What do you want to achieve for the Auckland Huskies this season and for also yourself personally?

‘Personally, I just want to be able to help the younger guys coming through and pass on what I’ve learnt. Even though I’m relatively young I’ve been able to travel the world and play basketball at many different levels. I’ve also played with some legends of New Zealand Basketball and also high level Australian players. For the Huskies I would just love to win a championship.’

The 2020 NZNBL Season begins on Tuesday June 23rdwith the Auckland Huskies taking on the Canterbury Rams at 7:30pm at Trust Arena on the opening night of the season. You can purchase tickets now through www.ticketfairy.com.

Jayden Head

Find Jayden on twitter @_jaydenhead

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