The New Zealand Breakers have signed one of the world's most promising young players for the 2023 NBL season.
Rayan Rupert, 18, comes to the club as a projected first-round pick in ESPN's 2023 NBA mock draft after graduating from the prestigious INSEP Academy in France, which also trained NBA stars Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, and Ronny Turiaf. He averaged 13.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals in 27 games this season.
The teenager is an imposing presence on the court at 2.04m or 6'7" and a staggering 2.22m or 7'3" wingspan and has already drawn a comparison to Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges.
Highly respected ESPN analyst Adrian Wojnarowski says Rupert, like Bridges, has defensive versatility, an ability to get into passing lanes and intensity on defence.
Breakers owner Matt Walsh has already expressed his excitement in welcoming Rupert to the club.
"Rayan is an extremely hard worker, and we can't wait to see him in a Breakers' uniform," said Walsh.
"He is one of the top young talents in the world, and we are excited for him to continue the Next Stars success that we have had following an amazing season from Ousmane Dieng."
Rupert also comes laden with a deep family history of basketball success. His father, Thierry, was a EuroLeague player and captain of the French national team while his sister, Iliana, was the 12th overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces in the 2021 WNBA draft.
The Next Star signing of Rupert comes the same week as the club locked in a two-year deal for Australian Boomer and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Cam Gliddon.
Gliddon brings ten years of Australian NBL experience to the Breakers with 273 appearances for the Taipans, Bullets, and more recently, the Phoenix.
Gliddon and Rupert join five kiwis in Tom Abercrombie, Rob Loe, Sam Timmins, Dan Fotu, Tom Vodonavich, and prized Aussie point guard Will McDowell-White at the Breakers for the 2023 season.