By Brian McInnis
While Hawaii's game against Boise State tonight is obviously the main focus, many are curious about the team's new addition, Jace Tavita, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound transfer guard from Utah.
Tavita will be a practice player for the rest of the season, and most of the fall portion of next season per NCAA rules.
He already looks to be the most physical of any guard on the UH roster.
Here was what UH coach Gib Arnold had to say at yesterday's practice about the team's new addition.
"Love him. He can guard it, he’s athletic. Obviously love the fact that he’s Hawaiian, he’s got family here ... and he can play. He’s a Division I player who started a lot (19 of 30 games last season) at the University of Utah. I’ve known Jace since (eighth grade at a basketball camp). He’s going to end his career here. I told him he’s going to come back home, although he’s never lived here. He went home to finish his career."
"He’s a great athlete, he’s tough as nails, and he’s going to bring that attitude to the floor every day, and he’s going to give our guards fits by getting into them and guarding them and doing those things. He’s going to make us better and he’s going to make that scout team better as well.
And we’ve improved our ability to do the haka as well over Christmas break, with adding him and Miah."
Arnold wouldn't say whether Tavita would be a scholarship player (the team has two available right now with the departure of guards Anthony Salter and Jordan Coleman).
Tavita was happy to do a little Q&A yesterday after his first UH practice:
Q: How did you come to be here?
A: I just wasn’t happy with my situation at Utah. I knew the great things Coach Arnold was doing over here, so I just wanted to be a part of that. That culture and stuff. Coming back here, where I got a lot of family, my Poly roots, I thought it’d be a good thing for me.
I was born in California and raised in Utah. My grandparents were born here, my mom was born here. So it’s cool to come back over here.
Both my grandparents are both full Hawaiian. Got some Hawaiian in my blood.
Q: On getting in five games at Utah this year:
A: Yeah, the style of play over there, I didn’t really fit it. More of an athlete, I like to get up and down and run. (Coach Boylen’s) plays kind of slowed tempo. It didn’t really fit me, and I wasn’t really happy over there. So I decided to make a change.
Q: What's your history with Gib?
A: Yeah, I’ve known him since, like he said, eighth grade, so we have a good relationship. I’m comfortable playing for him and I like what he’s doing over here, so I want to be part of that.
Q: Were you with Utah when it came down for the Diamond Head Classic?
A: No, I had already gotten my release. I watched it. I was rooting for Hawaii and I’m happy they won.
Q: What were your thoughts on your first UH practice?
A: I thought it was good. We got up and down without killing the guys’ legs, because they have a game (today). Working on the things he talked about, rebounding and getting stops. Being tougher. So that was good, I like that.
Q: Will you be on scholarship?
A: We haven’t really talked about it, so I’m not worried about it as of right now. Just trying to get situated.