Smashing goals on and off the court: Zach McKenzie

Date: 07 Nov 2023

Since graduating from Dilworth in 2019, life’s been a slam dunk for NBL basketball player Zach McKenzie.

Currently shooting hoops for the Franklin Bulls, Zach recently returned from five months in Ohio, where he and brother Noah (also a Dilworth alumnus) trained with Flyght Academy, a high-performance sports institute established by former NBA player Chris Wright.

“I’d never been to the States before so it was pretty crazy - I literally just hopped off the plane and had my first game,” says Zach. “We played in a few different states and trained with people from all over the world. It was a fantastic experience and I saw a big improvement, especially on the mental side of my game.”

Now back in Auckland juggling his AUT Bachelor of Business studies with his NBL career, Zach says his years at Dilworth laid the groundwork for success, both on and off the court.

“My education is quite important to me and Dilworth was awesome academically. I was blessed to get a couple of scholarships – a Staples Education Foundation Scholarship and a Keir Trust Study Award. This has meant that I haven’t had to work as much throughout my tertiary studies, and have been able to allocate more of my time to basketball. I don’t think I’d have even looked into these scholarships if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of the Dilworth careers advisor. Thanks to her, I’ll graduate from AUT free from debt which is awesome.”

But Dilworth’s strong academic focus isn’t the only thing that Zach is grateful for. He graduated with a network of lifelong friends “that will always be in my corner”, and rock-solid foundations to launch his professional basketball career.

“Sport has always been a massive part of my life,” says Zach, who in his final year at Dilworth took out Sportsman of the Year, won the soccer trophy and the cross country, and was named Most Improved Player for basketball.

“I started off as a soccer boy, but when I got to Senior Campus I started to grow quite a bit, and a couple of my mates suggested I go to the courts with them after prep time. The facilities at Dilworth are state-of-the-art and you have access to the gym and the courts pretty much all the time. That was probably the biggest thing that helped improve my game.”

Zach quickly fell in love with the sport and started “taking hoops seriously” around Year 12.

“I’m six foot eight now and am naturally quite a self-conscious person. Playing basketball helped me feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin.”

By the time he graduated from Dilworth, Zach had a clear pathway forward. And that’s something he gives the school a lot of credit for.

“Dilworth is an institution that genuinely wants to see students do well. They have a team of great people, and invest substantial resources into supporting students to succeed. Whatever you do well in, and whatever opportunity you want to pursue, you can do it at Dilworth.”