The son of world-champion woodchoppers from New Zealand is the newest basketball commitment for the University of Kentucky.
Tai Wynyard — a 6-foot-9, 265-pound post player — committed to the Wildcats on Sunday, two weeks after taking official visits to UK, Texas and Villanova during a weeklong trip to the United States.
Wynyard is expected to be a member of the class of 2016, though he is considering enrolling at UK in time for next season. He turns 17 years old next month.
DraftExpress.com analyst Jonathan Givony has scouted Wynyard multiple times and spoke to the Herald-Leader this month about his potential. Givony described Wynyard as a "big, strong kid" who has the body to "bully people" in the post.
His parents, Jason and Karmyn Wynyard, are internationally successful athletes in the sport of woodchopping.
"I guess that's where that thick, lumberjack frame comes from," Givony said. "Maybe he's been chopping some wood, too."
UK started recruiting Wynyard last fall, but the official visit this month marked his first trip to Lexington. He was in the United States last April to play in the Jordan Brand international game.
Wynyard had only two points and one rebound in that showcase, fouling out after just 11 minutes on the court.
Givony noted that Wynyard had little experience playing with players of his own size and skill before that game. He is not ranked by any of the major recruiting services and few American-based scouts have seen him play.
"New Zealand is not a big country to start with," Givony said. "And it's not a basketball country. There are only so many kids his age who can match up with him physically. ... He's been going up against very legitimate competition this year."
Wynyard's recent competition has come as a member of the New Zealand Breakers professional team. While practicing with the Breakers, the new UK commitment is matching up against post players that have excelled at major U.S. colleges and at the international level.
Givony said Wynyard has the size and competitive demeanor to "punish" opponents around the rim. He compared him to former UK post player Josh Harrellson, who helped the Cats reach the Final Four in 2011.
"He has good hands and good touch around the basket," he said. "He's not really an athlete, he's not really explosive. ... He's a rebounder, he's an inside guy, he's a banger."
If Wynyard does decide to join the class of 2015, there could be plenty of immediate playing time available at his position. The latest update from DraftExpress.com projects that UK will lose Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Dakari Johnson to this year's NBA Draft.
Kentucky is still in the mix for several five-star post players in the class of 2015.
There are no questions about Wynyard's amateur status as a college recruit, unlike former UK recruit Enes Kanter, who played for a Turkish professional team and was later ruled ineligible at Kentucky.
Wynyard sits on the Breakers bench for home games but does not travel with the team and is not paid by the Breakers. His parents and Breakers personnel are aware of the requirements for NCAA eligibility and have kept Wynyard on the path to play in college.
"He's not going to have any eligibility issues whatsoever," Givony said. "He's been on the college track from a very early age."