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Tamuri hoping to make people "Wigness" of next great from Torres Strait
Foshan (FIBA U16 Asian Championship) - Fans who will be watching the FIBA U16 Asian Championship should pay attention to the Australia games and prepare to become witnesses of a special player - or maybe we should say "Wignesses".
Australia will be making their maiden appearance in the competition and the Crocs head to Foshan, China as the favorites - thanks in large part to Tamuri Wigness.
The explosive guard has already made headlines in the international game, having enrolled at the NBA Global Academy in Australia and securing a spot at Australia's famed Center of Excellence. Next up is to lead Australia through the FIBA U16 Asian Championship and back to the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup for the fifth time.
"Our goal is only winning Asia and then also win the World Cup," said Wigness, who will face with his teammates Malaysia and Philippines in Group B
The 6ft 0in (1.84m) guard is looking forward to facing the competition in China.
"It will be a very good experience for myself, learning the different type of skills and plays around the world and also that I can see what I need to improve," said Wigness, who turned 16 years old on March 26.
Wigness has already come a long way in basketball - especially when you consider it wasn't his first sports love.
That was football - which in Australia means any and all of Australian rules football, rugby league, rugby union and soccer.
"Football was my first loved sports," Wigness says with pride. "Football helped me a lot with toughness and quickness."
And the basketball world has Wigness' mother to thank for having him in the game.
"I started playing rugby league growing up, and my dream was to take it to a professional level. But my mum was always scared of contact, so she signed me up to basketball."
It wasn't until just coming out of primary school that basketball found him. And even though he admits that he still plays a bit of football here and there, hoops have taken over as Wigness' number one sport - also off the court.
"Really, studying new moves to put into my game," he answers when asked what he does away from the hardwood.
Despite being a bit late to basketball, Wigness definitely has turned himself into the life of the party.
His game is electrifying, making opponents' heads spin with his dribbling wizardry and then thinking where did he go when Wigness flashes past them with his great speed and acceleration. The diminutive, muscular lefty can also hurt you with a jump shot and also possesses excellent court vision to find his teammates.
His potential led him to gaining a spot in the NBA Global Academy Australia, and opening his eyes in the basketball world outside of Australia.
"Basketball has no borders. There are people playing the sports around the world. You gotta always work on your game because there could be someone training twice as hard as you when you're resting," Wigness said.
And he's looking forward to pushing his game forward at the famed CoE at the Australian Institute of Sports.
"It means a lot knowing that you are in a program that stars have come through. It's an honour," Wigness said.
Another honor Wigness cherishes is representing the indigenous people of Australia whenever he has a chance - as he did at a recent Australian Indigenous All-Stars exhibition.
"Me coming back home and all the family and people that I grow up with seeing me playing for my island and culture is a blessing, a thing I have always wanted to do," he said.
When talking about where Wigness is from, it's best to grab an atlas or call up a map online. Not too many people are going to know of the Torres Strait Islands - a group of islands between Queensland, Australia and the southern islands of Papua New Guinea.
"Growing up there was really different from the city life. All you know is culture and the sea," he described. "But after moving to Cairns to do primary school was a really hard transition."
One of Wigness' main role models is Nathan Jawai, who played in the NBA and many top clubs in Europe. Jawai, who still plays in the Australian NBL, is also indigenous, growing up in Bamaga, a mostly Torres Strait Islander community on the tip of Cape York.
"He is a big brother to me, just showing that a kid from the Torres Strait Islands can make it all the way up to the NBA," Wigness said.
Another major trait of Wigness is his confidence. He already has an Instagram TW logo from his initial, which also looks like a super hero logo and his handle is _t.witnessjr_, promoting the following comment online: "We are all Wignesses" - a play on the LeBron James "We Are All Witnesses" marketing campaign.
When asked what he thinks when he hears such a comment, Wigness said: "That if I build on my talent and love the process, that my game will be something no one can control."
Buckle up, it's time for FIBA U16 Asian Championship spectators to become Wignesses.