He is the son of a North Otago sporting legend, but Max de Geest is rapidly carving out his own reputation. The Junior Tall Blacks and New Zealand 3×3 star is part of the extended Breakers squad and will this year fulfil his dream of playing college basketball in the United States. Hayden Meikle tracks down the talented 18-year-old.
Q How was your Christmas?
Yeah, it was good fun, just catching up with the family.
Q You’ve lived in Christchurch for schooling for a while, and now you’re in Auckland. How does it feel when you return to Oamaru?
It feels the same, to be honest. I love it. I’ll always be from Oamaru.
Q What are you up to now?
I’m in Auckland as a development player for the New Zealand Breakers. It’s been a big step up from what I was doing in Christchurch. It’s really helping me develop my game – just the professionalism, all the training, and the players I’m going up against. It’s just a different calibre. The Breakers are very supportive. All they want you to do is improve, so they do everything they can to help you develop as a player.
Q Which players have you enjoyed spending time with?
I get along really well with Finn Delany. My locker is right by his. All the other development players are cool too.
Q Have you actually got on the court in an NBL game?
Yeah, I stripped for the game against Cairns, and got on the court for a couple of minutes. I was so nervous. It was crazy.
Q Tell me about your college basketball plans.
I’m heading away in May to Long Beach State University in California. I’m heading over early to do some summer school, so I can get classes out of the way before the season starts. Long Beach State plays basketball in the Big West Conference, division one. I’m looking forward to the good California weather, ha ha. I visited campus a year ago and it’s an amazing place. The stadium is in this sort of pyramid with two big courts, two weight rooms, two locker rooms – and there’s another big facility round the corner with eight courts, boxing, yoga, a pool, everything.
Q When did you first start to think about playing college ball?
It’s just always been a dream of mine. The US is obviously the big dog when it comes to basketball, and I always wanted to go and play over there. I want to see what I can do. The athleticism of players over there will be on another level. Guys over there have been going up against the best of the best for their whole career.
Q Run me through what you have been up to since you left Oamaru.
I moved to Christ’s College halfway through year 11, so I had three years in the top basketball team there. We made nationals in my year 12 but didn’t do so well, but we got fourth in my last year. In year 13, I was a development player for the Canterbury Rams, so I played for them for two years before I got the call from Kevin Braswell at the Breakers. I’ve also played for the Junior Tall Blacks, and my college is allowing me to go to the world junior championships in Greece this year. I played for the New Zealand 3×3 team last year, which was fun.
Q Your dad is Brian de Geest, the godfather of North Otago hoops. What influence has he been on you?
I was watching him since I was really young. I kind of just wanted to do what he did. He’s helped me a lot because he knows the game so well.
Q Are you a similar player to him?
Hah. He was a shooter and a scrappy defender. He went on the court to make open shots and annoy the heck out of players on the defensive end. I hope my game becomes a bit more than that. But he was awesome. I’m a shooting guard but hopefully I can be a combo guard in college so I can learn how to play the point.
Q Do you follow an NBA team?
Boston Celtics. But I like watching all sorts of players.