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New Zealanders Maxim and Dominique Stephens bring well-rounded skill sets to Rocky Mountain basketball teams

Maxim Stephens.jpg
Dominique Stephens.jpg
Posted at 3:16 PM, Nov 30, 2023

For international basketball prospects, finding a home in the states isn’t always easy.

Rocky Mountain College siblings Maxim and Dominique Stephens were fortunate enough to have a connection through their father that brought them from New Zealand to Billings.

“Unless you sort of know someone over here, it's hard to get really into it. There are a couple camps people are doing now, like Basketball Without Borders," Maxim said. "It's every hooper's dream to be playing in America in college, so it's awesome I managed to get over here."

It's just as difficult for coaches stateside to evaluate the film they receive from prospects overseas.

“It's extremely difficult, so that's why you almost have to have some contact that you've gotten a kid from or you know somebody that this guy sends players to," Rocky women's coach Wes Keller said. "We basically took (Dominique) sight unseen."

Both Maxim and Dominique stand out among their peers. Maxim comes in at 6-foot-9 but said his dad is even taller, while Dominique stands 6-3 and towers over most Frontier Conference women.

“I think back at home I had a lot more friends that were taller, then a lot of these girls aren't that tall," Dominique said. "So I probably feel a lot taller here."

“It's not just in New Zealand, but I hang around basketball players all the time, so I don't feel tall," Maxim said.

Their style on the court, though, transcends their size. Both siblings can extend their range, put the ball on the floor and create for others. That all-around skill set is something that’s a must in international ball and has been a focal point for the pair growing up.

“In international basketball the average height is 6-foot-9," Maxim said. "From a young age, it got instilled in me that I'm average height for international basketball, so I've got to be able to shoot and be able to dribble the ball."

“In New Zealand, for example, it runs kind of position-less. Whoever gets down the court first is this person. If you run down the outside you're the three (position). If you've got the ball you're the point guard, so you kind of have to play off what happens every play, so each play could be a different position," Dominique said.

The Kiwis take the floor this Saturday at Alterowitz Gym as Rocky takes on MSU Billings in Round 2 of the Rimrock Rivalry.