42 days away from tip-off to a new season, the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team hit the court on Wednesday with day one of training camp.
The Rainbow Warriors led by head coach Eran Ganot who enters his seventh season strolling the sidelines has quite the mix of newcomers and returnees headlines by guard/forward Samuta Avea who can carry both labels. The senior opted out of the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and returns after spending the last season training in Hawaii and in California and Utah.
Joining Avea is longtime friend Kamaka Hepa. The former Texas Longhorns big man who was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school joins a UH program that is close to his heart as his father grew up on Kauai.
” I think it’s going to take a level of connectedness and I think we’re already building that foundation so I’m not really worried about it at all,” said Hepa. “I think everyday we come in with a positive mindset and have great energy and we’re kind of feeding off of each other so, I think what’s more important to us is just continuing to stack good days as opposed to focusing on the outcome. We’re very process oriented right now and I think that’s going to really help us down the line. Especially as the season progresses.”
Among notable returnees for UH will be forward Bernardo Da Silva who played in five games last season early before sitting out the rest of the season due to injury. As a true freshman in 2019-20, the Brazil native played in 25 games with four starts.
Junior guard Junior Madut was an All-Big West honorable mention last season after playing in all 21 games with 16 starts. He led the team in field goal attempts (200), three-point field goal attempts (98), steals (23) and total minutes played (629), averaging 10.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Other players who contributed last season were guards Jovon Mclanahan, Noel Coleman, and Beon Riley. In the frontcourt, Mate Colina returns along with Zoar Nedd.
Joining the previously mentioned Hepa as newcomers to the program are guards Amoro Lado, Jako Prevodnik, and Juan Munoz along with forwards Brock Hefner, and Jerome Desrosiers.
“We’ve worked hard to get to today. We celebrate each week. We compartmentalize. It’s all about putting us in the best position to succeed for games right? So we had a seven week intense summer. Celebrate it, put it to bed and now it’s about focusing on the fall, just finished it, put it to bed and now it’s all about practices. Can’t skip steps and start thinking about games but we put ourselves in a good position today, now we got to do the same thing to put ourselves in a great position on November 10.,” said Ganot.
With all the pieces to the puzzle in place, the Rainbow Warriors anticipate an up-tempo style on offense. According to Avea, there’s a pace that hasn’t been reached in his previous seasons of donning the green and white.
“That’s something that we’ve seen in the practices and playing with each other. Everybody can shoot, everybody can run. There’s a lot of interchangeable pieces and it’s going to be a lot of fun for sure,” said Avea.
The Rainbow Warriors will start their season on Nov. 10 with the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. Nine days prior will be the team’s lone exhibition against Chaminade.
UH will play nearly a dozen non-conference contests-including a trio of preseason tournaments-before it begins its 20-game slate of Big West Conference games with a return to a traditional home-and-away schedule. In all, UH will play 17 home games at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, seven of them in non-conference action.