Maui Ahuna was a coveted commodity the second he entered the NCAA transfer portal. An All-Big 12 shortstop who started 53 games while hitting .396 in 2022, the Hilo alum earned interest from a bevy of powerhouse programs.

Ahuna ultimately announced his commitment to No. 1 Tennessee on Friday, where he’ll play with and against the best in the SEC.

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“The SEC is a good conference and the best conference for baseball and I’m excited to play with the best guys and I’m sure they’re excited to play with me and it’s a new step in my life and my journey in baseball,” Ahuna told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello.

“Since I entered the portal, it’s been a long and hectic two weeks. I was excited to enter the portal and I knew with the past season I had, I knew what was going to come and I knew schools was going to contact me and obviously Tennessee contacted me. They were one of the first teams to contact me. I knew that was the spot for me.”

The Volunteers are one game away from elimination after losing to Notre Dame 8-6 in the first game of super regionals, but can advance to the College World Series with consecutive victories over the Fighting Irish.

Ahuna recently arrived in Massachusetts for summer ball in the prestigious Cape Cod League, where he’ll play for the Falmouth Commodores. His ultimate goal is to follow in the footsteps of fellow Big Island college baseball standout Kolten Wong and bring more awareness to the talent the island provides.

“Just to put Hawaii on the map, it will be good for the next generation of people and Kolten kid of started it off, scouts and college teams will say, ‘We want more of these guys,'” Ahuna said. “They’ll see that there are more guys in Hawaii like them and hopefully they can impact Hawaii just like us.”