Former Redlands basketball star Tiana Mangakahia shoots hoops for professional dreams

ATHLETIC: Former Redlands sporting star Tiana Mangakahia, 23, is studying at New York's Syracuse University on a basketball scholarship. Photo: Supplied
ATHLETIC: Former Redlands sporting star Tiana Mangakahia, 23, is studying at New York's Syracuse University on a basketball scholarship. Photo: Supplied

A FORMER Redlander is fast becoming known as the ‘floor general’ by American team mates impressed at her basketball court prowess.

Tiana Mangakahia, 23, is studying communications and rhetorical studies at New York’s Syracuse University as she completes a three-year basketball scholarship.

However, her academic studies could be cut short in favour of a career shooting hoops.

Father Terei Mangakahia, of Victoria Point, said his daughter had been offered enrolment in masters studies but wanted to join United States professional league the Women’s National Basketball Association.

“Tiana is hoping to play in the WNBA (and) the decision is up to her,” he said.

“I see Tiana playing in the WNBA, over in Europe, WNBL and for Australia at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I suppose the most important thing is play it for as long as you enjoy it.”

Tiana Mangakahia in action on the basketball court. Photo: Supplied

Tiana Mangakahia in action on the basketball court. Photo: Supplied

Mr Mangakahia said Tiana, who had attended Hilliard State School, was a top ten finalist for the Nancy Lieberman award.

The award recognises the top point guard in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s division one women’s college basketball.

“During the 2017/18 season Tiana or Mangakahia as they like to call her, averaged 9.8 assists per game breaking the Atlantic Coast Conference assist record,” he said.

“Tiana also had a nation high total of 304 assists, officially making her the National Collegiate Athletic Association division one statistical champion.

”Putting this into perspective, her assist percentage or the number of times she passed the ball and it ended in a basket was 60.4 per cent.”

Texas A&M University coach Gary Blair said Mangakahia was one of the top five point guards in America for 2018/19 season, comparing her control of the game to some of NFLs greatest quarterbacks.

“When No. 4 takes over a game, there it goes, she’s that good,” he said.

“She’s under control. When you’re a point guard, your team has got to know ‘I’m under control.’

“Whether you’re Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Chris Paul, your mates have to know ‘Hey, I’ve got this.’”

Athleticism runs strong in the Mangakahia clan, with Tiana’s cousin Jake Mangakahia a noted dancer with the Australian Ballet.