The emergence of Dash Daniels has headlined an exceptional talent pool at the recent Under 18 National Championships.

16 Apr
Dan Woods for

Some of the best emerging talent in the country was on display at the Under 18 National Championships last week, and in a class General Manager of Next Stars Recruitment Liam Santamaria sees as potentially NBL-defining, one talent stood taller than the rest.

Dash Daniels – younger brother of NBA and Boomers star Dyson – led Vic Country to a bronze medal in the tournament, and Santamaria says there is genuine interest in the athletic guard from the NBL Next Stars program.

“In terms of long-term potential, it will come as no surprise that Dash Daniels is that guy,” Santamaria said on NBL Now. He’s got a very exciting future.

“Terrific physical tools, very skilled, excellent decision-maker and a menace at the defensive end which comes as no shock, similar to his older brother. He had a triple-double in the final pool game for Vic Country, he had almost a 20/20 game from the guard spot in the quarter-finals.

“He and his team weren’t at their best in the semi-final, but we’ve made our interest very clear in regards to Dash Daniels, and I think the Next Stars pathway would be fantastic for him.

“There are a number of teams around the league already expressing they would love to work with Dash and give him an opportunity in that type of space.”

While the ability of 16-year-old Dash has seen him on recruitment radars for a significant period of time, Santamaria says another, less heralded prospect also caught his eye over the course of the tournament.

“Another interesting name is a big kid out of Canberra, Ajak Nyuon,” he said.

“You probably haven’t heard of him before, but you will. He’s a tall, mobile big who is at the Centre of Excellence and he averaged about 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds), with 4.5 blocks per game. He’s blocking shots, he’s throwing down dunks and tip jams, but he’s very versatile. 

“He can operate on the perimeter, he can put it on the deck, he can square up and knock down a catch and shoot three. He’s a bit raw, he’s got a light frame at the moment, but he’s a very intriguing talent.”

Outside of the two leading lights in Daniels and Nyuon though, this batch of Under 18 players has the potential to alter the landscape of the NBL, once the time comes for them to turn professional.

The bulk of the players putting on a show over the tournament were born in 2007, but there were some bottom-agers (born 2008) present.

The past two NBL seasons have seen some of Australia and New Zealand’s leading local talents return to the competition following high-level collegiate careers, while previously nationally ranked American high-school players Klairus Amir and Dontae Russo-Nance both returned to the NBL in lieu of going to college.

That trend looks set to continue in NBL25, as highly touted talent Keli Leaupepe has already been confirmed as signing for the Sydney Kings next season from Loyola Marymount University, while University of Portland sharpshooter Tyler Robertson has been reported to have also agreed to a deal with Sydney.

Santamaria says there was a heavy NBL presence keeping an eye on the next generation at the tournament.

I think we’re going to look at this group in years to come and say it was particularly deep and strong. Lots of future NBL stars on display which was good to watch,” Santamaria said.

“Indy Cotton from Queensland led the tournament in scoring at 20 a game, he’s very fun to watch. Harrison Beauchamp from Victoria was big time in the final with 31 points and some clutch baskets to lead Vic Metro to the championship.

“What was really good to see was the amount of NBL people who were at that event. The focus on scouting young talent coming through, I saw it at the Under 20 nationals earlier this year, and I saw it at this one.

“The local guys, Justin Schueller and Darryl McDonald, Greg Vanderjagt, those guys were on deck, but Dean Vickerman made his way there, Mike Kelly, Scott Ninnis alongside his new GM of Basketball Matt Weston, Danny Mills was in town for a number of days.

“It was really cool to see those teams, and not just the third or fourth assistant, but the main guy was there making sure they were across the site young talent coming through the system.”

Cover photo: Cassidy Muir

Website Banner

For early access and updates, stay up to date with the hottest young basketball talent in the world. Sign up below and never miss a play or the next big moment.

By signing up you agree to the NBL Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.