Hungry Jack's NBL
Taipans secure Sam Waardenburg
The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans have inked a deal with Sam Waardenburg for his first professional playing contract; with the coveted University of Miami forward signing a two-year agreement in his anticipated return down under.
The 208cm forward recently helped the Hurricanes to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history, playing as their primary big man and their best three-point shooter.
For his final year, Waardenburg was a sixth-year redshirt senior and averaged 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and the team-high 1.3 blocks per game.
He led the team in blocks (47) three-point percentage (46 per cent) and finished the season as one of only three Division I players to record that stat line while shooting over 40 percent from three-point range on at least one make per game.
The 23-year-old boasts a lengthy and solid collegiate career, improving from 3.3 points and 2.8 boards as a freshman to 5.9 points and 6.0 boards as a junior. He redshirted his first year at UM as well as during 2020-21 due to an injury and COVID regulations.
Throughout his tenure Waardenburg was an exemplary international student, graduating with two master’s degrees and was named to the 2021-22 All-ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) Academic Team.
The Auckland native attended Rangitoto College and was MVP when he won the SAS Secondary Schools National Championship, won a silver medal for New Zealand at the U17 FIBA Oceania Championships, and won a bronze medal at the U16 Australian State Championships. Waardenburg also spent time with the Breakers as a development player.
Taipans Head Coach Adam Forde said that he had been monitoring Waardenburg closely over the years and was determined to get him to sign in Cairns.
“Sam was a top priority for us this off-season, as he was for many other teams.
“We started early on Sam with an aggressive pitch as we wanted to paint a picture of how he could complement our team moving forward. Everyone knows what he is capable of, and how high his ceiling is. We are happy that Sam made his final decision to play here, and we can’t wait to provide him with the platform to showcase his talents,” said Forde.
“Sam solves some problems we faced last season. Similar to guys already in the league like Jack White and DJ Vasiljevic, Sam was a starter in the ACC which has set him up to be a ready-made professional. He has already faced and become conditioned to the pressures of winning, scrutiny of the media, and the expectations of thousands of fans. His impact in the league and for the Taipans will be immediate."
Waardenburg joins Tahjere McCall, Keanu Pinder, Bul Kuol, Majok Deng and Mirko Djeric on the Taipans 2022-23 NBL roster.