Currently, the University of Hawaii women’s basketball team won’t have a player from the state on it’s roster this coming season. But that will change the following year. This month, Waiakea hooper Kelsie Imai committed to play for the Rainbow Wahine.
Imai is a 5’7 guard who averaged a triple-double last season as a junior. She’s been traveling a lot this summer with her club team the Kona Stingrays. It was at a tournament a few weeks ago in Oregon that ‘Bows head coach Laura Beeman first saw her play live. Several days later, before Imai had even returned to the Big Island, Kelsie spoke to Beeman for the first time on the phone.
“It’s actually really crazy,” said Imai. “I was on my layover over from Chicago. Her assistant texted me, coach Alex. And he told me that coach Laura was going to call me. About five minutes later she called me and I was just in shock because I wouldn’t expect a phone call from a coach literally on the way home. I was in shock. I went back to my parents. I was like ‘oh uhm I just got offered a scholarship.’ And they were like, ‘from who?’ And I told them Manoa and they were like ‘wow’.
Imai said it’s important for her to represent her home state.
“I grew up watching them,” she said. “My sisters are older. (UH’s) former player Shawna Kuehu, I grew up watching her because that’s the same age as my sisters. When I’m at home I watch (UH) on TV. I went to one of their camps.”
“I mean who would have ever thought that a local girl like me would be able to get a full ride scholarship to a school that’s at home?”
Tia Kanoa was Hawaii’s lone Hawaii product on the roster this past season. She has since graduated. Imai has scrimmaged against Kanoa in the past with Team Aloha.