BYU added the 17th and final piece to its 2021 roster as 6-foot-6 guard/forward Paora Winitana committed to BYU. Winitana played for American Heritage (American Fork, Utah) at the 2A level where his dad was the head coach. He committed to BYU via his Instagram.
Winitana dominated the 2A level, averaging 26 points, 15.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. He grew up in New Zealand before coming to the US before his junior year of high school.
Winitana was also recruited by Utah, UVU, and some other D1 schools before ultimately committing to BYU. He visited BYU and coaches in June with his parents. He will come to BYU as a walk on and plans to play one year before serving a LDS mission.
When asked why he committed to BYU, Winitana said BYU’s standards attracted him.
“BYU is very similar to the church and also the standards of the church. I believe I’ll gain a stronger testimony while I’m at BYU. And at the same time, improve on my game.”
At 6-foot-6, Winitana can play point guard or an undersized big with his strength.
“I believe I’m very versatile given my size and strength. I’ve played PG my entire life and since I’ve been blessed with my body, I’ve been playing inside too.”
Winitana comes from a basketball family. His dad, Paul Ramiha “Pāora”, was a star in the New Zealand basketball league. His dad had college offers from BYU, Wisconsin, Ohio Stae and others in the late 90s, but decided to serve a mission and then play pro ball in New Zealand once he got back. You may recognize him from the “I’m a Mormon” video the church produced back in 2012.
Winitana’s size and guard skills make him an intriguing option at guard. He’s not going to beat guys with his quickness, but his big frame could cause some mismatches at the guard line. Winitana is presumably the final piece that will be added to BYU’s roster before the season tips off November 9. We previewed the other 16 players on the roster a few weeks back in this piece.
You can watch highlights from Paora below.