By Brian McInnis
The UH men's basketball team got a big verbal commitment today in Serra High (Calif.) power forward Ronnie Stevens, but got some bad news as well in the MRI results of junior point guard Anthony Salter.
Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said Salter, who felt his left heel pop on Monday, would wear a cast (boot) on his foot for two weeks.
That would take him out of action right up to the season opener against Montana State in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic on Nov. 12.
The timing is bad for Salter, who was competing for a starting job and minutes in the Rainbows' backcourt. UH's other two point guards, senior Hiram Thompson and freshman Bobby Miles, will see all of the minutes at the point in practices.
I pulled what I wrote on the Star-Advertiser's breaking news section on Stevens:
Ronnie Stevens, a highly regarded power forward at Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., confirmed tonight he's given his oral commitment to play basketball at the University of Hawaii for the 2011-12 season.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Stevens averaged 12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.9 blocks per game as a junior in helping Serra to the CIF Division III state championship.
Stevens was one of two players to visit Hawaii during the weekend of the UH Ohana Hoopfest. He was sick the night that UH coach Gib Arnold and the UH players performed separate haka dances, but Stevens didn't take that as a bad omen.
He said Arnold has kept in touch with him throughout high school.
His final decision came down to UH and Cal State Northridge, which he visited last weekend. He said distance wasn't a factor.
"They (my family) were really excited, my mom was tearing up a little bit," Stevens said. "They were happy."
Stevens doesn't plan on signing a national letter of intent until the spring (late) period.
"I got this little promise, me and my friends have had for a while," Stevens said. "All of them got recruited by other schools and stuff. We want to all commit at the same time. It'll be nice to have us all up there signing."
He wasn't a featured offensive player in Serra's title run — he got many of his points on putbacks — but certainly will be this year as the team lost 10 seniors from last season.
Stevens is also an avid volleyball player. Serra coach Dwan Hurt estimated his vertical leap at 35 inches. The right-handed player often goes to the basket strong with his left hand, and can block shots with either.
"He's very versatile, and I think he'll be a tremendous asset to the University of Hawaii," Hurt said. "I'm going to tell you, the University of Hawaii's going to be very, very happy with Ronnie Stevens. He's just a great kid, and he's so mild-mannered. He has a lot of fight in him, that's why I said his better days are ahead of him. And he has a lot of talent that's untapped right now."
Stevens is the second oral commitment gathered this fall by UH. The first was point guard Gerry Blakes of Morningside (Calif.) High.
The Rainbows currently have one scholarship remaining for the 2011-12 season.
The team scrimmaged today with referees for the second time, and implemented some of the zone offense they've worked on this week.
Miles hit the sudden-death game-winning shot, a fadeaway from the left baseline, in the third overtime to win it for the Black squad, 62-60.
Freshman guard Bo Barnes was instrumental in the Black comeback win with four 3-pointers in an abbreviated second half; a few Rainbows were cramping up in the humid Stan Sheriff Center, so Arnold cut the session short.
"There was progress. I think our execution was a little bit better," Arnold said. "Our man-to-man defense was a little bit better. ... Our zone offense looked good, but it was probably because our zone defense looked so bad. But we'll go half-full on that and say our zone offense looked good."