Honolulu, HI — The Warriors of Hawai’i went 14-16 overall, and 8-8 in Big West conference play last season. They finished off the season on a three game losing and streak and lost to the Long Beach State 49ers, 73-62, in the quarterfinals of the Big West conference tournament.
Head Coach Eran Ganot and his staff will have a tough task in front of them this upcoming season, as they will have to replace the team’s leading scorer in Noah Allen and replace one of their own in assistant Chris Acker.
Key Departures: Noah Allen, Chris Acker, Matt Owies
Former 6’7 guard Noah Allen led the team in scoring, rebounds, and steals last year as a senior for the Warriors. He went undrafted in this year’s draft, and will join the Golden State Warriors’ summer league team.
Hawai’i assistant Chris Acker will leave the program after two years and will join the Boise State Broncos‘ coaching staff. He joined the Hawai’i program in the offseason of 2015 and will more than likely see an increase in pay due to the larger program that Boise State is.
According to the Star Advertiser, head coach Eran Ganot had these words to say about the departed assistant.
“We want to congratulate Chris on his new position. Chris has played a pivotal role in our program’s success and his efforts have allowed us to get where we’re at today.”‘
The vacated position has yet to be filled.
Former guard Matthew Owies was granted his release from the program, and will be headed to Seattle University next season, according to his Twitter page.
Owies averaged 11.6 minutes per game, and put up 2.6 points per game as well.
Key Returnees: Sherriff Drammeh, Gibson Johnson, Jack Purchase
Sherriff Drammeh, a 6’3 junior guard, lead the team in minutes per game last season. He averaged 9.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per contest. He was also one of the team’s best three-point shooter last season.
Gibson Johnson, a 6’8 senior forward, was second on the team in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. Johnson shot a dreadful 17.2 percent from beyond the arc last season, so that is one thing that he will more than likely be working on getting better at for the upcoming season.
Jack Purchase, a 6’8 junior forward, contributed from deep last season shooting nearly 40 percent from downtown. Jack led the team in free throw percentage, at 89.5 percent, and chipped in 9.6 points per game.
Key Additions: Samuta Avea, Justin Hemsley, Jaaron Stallworth, Michael Thomas*, Brandon Thomas
Samuta Avea is the highest recruit out of the 2017-2018 class, being a three star forward out of Kahuku High School in Hauula, Hawai’i. He was a part of the early signing period, and officially signed his letter of intent on November 16 of last year. According to ESPN’s scouting report on Avea, “his ball skills are solid in the open court and he appears to be a willing passer. He appears to be a solid rebounder in his area and despite his size, he can come from the weak side for the perfectly-timed shot block.”
Look for Avea to make a contribution early and often for the Warriors.
Justin Hemsley is another highly touted incoming wing for Hawai’i, as he is listed as a two-star prospect on ESPN.com. Hemsley is from Damien High School in LaVerne, California and averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds per game as a senior. Look for Hemsley to use those rebound numbers to his advantage this season for the Warriors.
Jaaron Stallworth is coming to Hawai’i from Yuba College to Honolulu this fall. Stallworth is coming off a season ending leg injury that he suffered midway through the season last year. The one good thing that comes with a broken leg injury for Stallworth, is that he will have three more years of eligibility left when he arrives at Hawai’i. He shot 40 percent overall and 76 percent from the line in 13 games for Yuba.
Michael Thomas is a returning player, but he redshirted his senior year last season. So, technically he is a new addition. As a junior in 2015-16, he started every single game and recorded four double double games. According to hawaiiatthletics.com, “ranked second on the team in rebounding (5.6), which was 13th-best in the Big West…finished 13th in the league in offensive rebounds per game (1.9)…also averaged 7.9 points on 52.1 percent field goal shooting.” He is one of the main players the Warriors will rely on this season.
Brandon Thomas is Michael Thomas’ younger brother, who is a 6’4 wing from Riversise Community College. According to Brian McInnis, ” The [Thomas’s] are expected to be the first brothers on the same roster in the modern era (all college opponents) of UH basketball.”
The Hawai’i Warriors are going to be testing out their new additions and see which pairings work the best and give them the best chance to win at the end of the day.
One real weakness that the team has is that they have only one big man. The tallest player they have on their roster is Ido Flaisher, who is 6’10. So once he comes out of the rotation, the Warriors will have to play small ball and be forced to take what opposing coaches give them. Overall, this is a relatively young team that will try to replace Noah Allen as the leading scorer on this team.
– T. Zust