BYU Basketball Adds New Zealand Native Guard To Upcoming Roster

Aug 9, 2021, 12:50 AM
BYU Basketball - Paora Winitana...
Former American Heritage guard Paora Winitana has committed to BYU. (Photo courtesy of American Heritage High School, Dave Buer)
(Photo courtesy of American Heritage High School, Dave Buer)

PROVO, Utah – The relentless approach Mark Pope incorporates into his BYU Basketball program adds another prospect on the recruiting trail.

BYU landed a commitment from New Zealand native Paora Winitana on Sunday night. Winitana is a 6-foot-6, 245-pound guard who prepped at American Heritage High School in American Fork.

He wrote on his personal Instagram page, “Decided I’ll stay home for college. #committed”


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A post shared by Paora Winitana (@pwinitana10)

Winitana will join the BYU basketball program for the 2021-22 season as a walk-on. He’s the 17th player on the roster, and he’s the ninth player on the roster entering his first season with the BYU basketball program this year.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Winitana plans to enroll at BYU this upcoming season, then he will serve a mission for the Church and return for the 2024-25 campaign.

Paora Winitara: Before BYU basketball snapshot

Before moving to Utah, Winitana was an MVP at the U15 New Zealand Nationals tournament. He prepped at St. John’s College, Westlake Boys Academy in New Zealand before moving to Utah at American Heritage before his junior year.

During his senior year at American Heritage this past winter, Winitana averaged 26 points, 15.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 3.0 steals per game. Winitana was a 2A First Team selection this past spring.

While he was filling up the state sheet at AHHS, Winitana’s play caught the attention of BYU coaches. BYU assistant coach Cody Fueger began contacting Winitana at the midway point of his senior campaign.

Winitana’s father, Paora Sr., was an accomplished basketball player and is an active member of the Church. Paora Sr played professionally from 1996 to 2016 for teams in New Zealand and Australia.

With Winitana now committed, BYU is expected to have three walk-on players this season. All three players had prep careers in the state of Utah. Those three include Olympus’ Jeremy DowDell, Pleasant Grove’s Casey Brown, and Winitana (American Heritage).

The last BYU basketball player to hail originally from New Zealand was Michael Thompson, who played in 1996-97.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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