Manawatū Jets basketball player dies in car crash

A “highly decorated” young basketball player for the Manawatū Jets has died in a car crash.

Jake McKinlay, 20, was killed on Monday morning, the team said on social media.

“It's with heavy hearts and immense sadness; we mourn the passing of a member of the Jets family, Jake McKinlay, who was tragically taken in a car accident this morning,” the post said.

“We have no words that can express the sorrow and loss of this exceptional young man who still had his whole life ahead of him. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Jake's family and friends at this difficult time.”

A person died following a crash involving a car and a truck on State Highway 1 north of Ōtaki, in the Horowhenua region shortly before 6am on Monday.

It’s understood the victim was McKinlay, but police are yet to confirm.

Manawatū Jets general manager Darryl June said the team would be in a position to release an official statement on McKinlay’s death on Tuesday.

McKinlay captained the successful 2018 Palmerston North Boys’ High School premier squad, was named in the New Zealand secondary schools' tournament team, and in the Junior Tall Blacks.

He debuted for the Jets in the same year, joining just a handful of players to play in the National Basketball League while still at high school.

Jets’ coach Tim McTamney coached McKinlay as a high school student, and gave him his first opportunity with the Jets at NBL level.

After being re-signed in February, McKinlay told Stuff it was a great opportunity to develop as a player and contribute to the success of the Jets.

“We’re all hungry to make an impact this year, and I’m honoured to be part of it. I plan to work hard, fill my role to the best of my ability, and do what it takes for our team to be successful,” he said.

Manawatū Basketball also posted on social media about McKinlay's death.

“Today we lost a son, a friend, a role model, a member of our wider family who means the world to everyone who knew him. Rest in love Jake Tyrone McKinlay.

“You have set the bar so high for others to follow, your work ethic was second to nobody. The times we would sit in our office and see you out on the courts striving to be your best – day in and day out, leaving only when you had emptied the tank and some.”