By Brian McInnis
Seems to be some nice pickups by Gib Arnold and Co. so far in this spring period. Had the signings not been accompanied by another piece of news, the departure of Bo Barnes, it would have felt like a great day for the team. Instead, it was merely a good one.
Though Barnes' primary skill-set was obvious — bombing away from long range — that's a coveted asset to have, even if the rest of his game wasn't yet developed. He was also a hard worker on defense and a solid character guy, an underrated component of any team. That's why losing him hurts.
UH suddenly has another scholarship opening, and there are other recruits out there. Feather River College small forward Michael Harvey is kind of in limbo, but said yesterday he'd still prefer to go to UH if there is a scholarship ready. Georgia Perimeter forward Tyler McDaniels, the son of assistant Benjy Taylor, has been mentioned as a possibility. Anthony Odunsi, the combo guard from Travis High in Fort Bend, Texas, is reportedly taking a visit here near the end of the month before he makes his final decision.
Could this mean the team could release someone else? Yes, but the other seven returning scholarship players, plus walk-ons Pi‘i Minns and Jace Tavita, appear to be in the fold at the moment.
Once he could comment, Arnold had plenty to say on his new signees, plus the departure of Barnes. Here's a transcript of what he had to say on each:
On the overall group:
"I think we got a lot more athletic. I think we got a great group of versatile players; all three of these guys can play the off guard up to the 4. I like the idea of having interchangeable parts both offensively and defensively. All three of them can do that, so that lets you able do a lot more defensively. We were a little limited on that this year. ... (Now) we can do a little bit more.
I like that two of these guys bring with them Division I experience. I like the maturity factor that you get a couple guys who’ve played Division I basketball. And Dillon Biggs, the sky’s the limit with his potential.
On instant impact:
I think your freshmen can be instant-impact guys. You kind of want all your recruits to be able to come in and vie for playing time and starting time. Again, starting time doesn’t mean a lot to me but playing time does. I expect all three of these guys to come in and be a big part of where we’re going with the program."
On DeShawn Mitchell:
"DeShawn’s (dismissal) situation, I think you look at everybody individually. I’ve known DeShawn’s (Snow College) coach (Michael Ostlund) for over 10 years. I spent a lot of time talking to his coach. I knew his high school coach, I knew the coaches that he played for at UNLV. Before we made a decision to go with that, we spent a lot of time meeting with him and talking with him.
His situation there was a little bit unique. He didn’t break any team rules, didn’t do anything against the law. Just him and the head coach were having a hard time being on the same page. That’s not uncommon in college basketball, or any kind of basketball. I’ve had some experience with that myself, dealt with that a little bit this year. But I’ve also had a lot of success with guys who are maybe a little tough-minded. I feel like I can work with those guys and together we can work things out. I wouldn’t have offered DeShawn a scholarship if I thought that wouldn’t be the case. I’m more than happy to give guys second chances and players the ability to redeem themselves.
With that said, we run a very tight program and there are high expectations. DeShawn, as well as all the incoming recruits, will be asked to meet those expectations both in the classroom and with their teammates, with their coaches. We’ll expect all of those guys to fulfill those.
We talked very in-depth about it. ... I talked with his father and mother many, many, many times about what I expect. ... He understands that and he knows what he’s getting into, which is good. I think he’s matured and I hope that he’s grown from it, and I think his comments reflect that as well.
The fact that I knew his college coach and that he stayed on and continued school, even though he wasn’t on the basketball team. I like that, and there were definitely some positives he can learn from coming out of that and be a good teammate. We’re going to move on from that. We’re going to give him another chance at the University of Hawaii. ... I expect him to have a very successful career here."
On Hauns Brereton:
"I think what Hauns brings to the program is, I think he brings a great maturity to it. You lose a guy like Bill (Amis), a guy like Hiram (Thompson), both older, mature players. It’s nice to have Hauns, who is older and a little bit mature. I think that’s going to really help us. I think he’s a kid who can come in and take a leadership role ... he’s a very good basketball player and he showed that near the end of the year, averaging a ridiculous amount. ... I think his last 10, 15 games, he was scoring almost 30 every night and rebounding and shooting. A lot of people started jumping on him late.
We love the idea that he chose to play for us. We love the idea that he has Hawaiian roots. There will be family at the games, he can play in front of his family, and we feel like he’s coming home. I think that’s special."
On Dillon Biggs:
"Dillon may be the best athlete in California, if not the West, and one of the top athletes in the country. He’s a guy that can put his teeth on the rim. He’s long, and he’s athletic. Those guys, when they get a motor and when they get a work ethic, those guys eventually become special players. Doesn’t always happen overnight with them, but with hard work, guys who are gifted like that, can really be special. I think Dillon is, at least I feel, he’s a guy that we see potentially as being a phenomenal player, not only at the University of Hawaii, but nationally, could be something special.
Once we get him in and begin to work with him, get him in the weight room — he needs to get stronger — he’s really young, only 17, he could very easily be in the junior class this year. So he’s a young kid, still got some growing to do, some maturing to do, but we’ll be more than happy to work with him and help him reach that potential, because I think he’s got phenomenal potential."
On Bo Barnes leaving:
"Bo was great. Bo was absolutely just a great kid to coach. It came as a total shock when we met at the end of the year, and he expressed he wanted to go play with his brother, who was just graduating. Wanted to do that, something that he and his family had been talking about for some time. But I enjoyed coaching Bo, Bo’s a good kid and he’s a good basketball player. It’s unfortunate to see him leave, I would have enjoyed coaching him throughout his career, but him and his family made the decision, and I’ll honor that. And we’ll move on from that.
I understand that, but in the same breath I believe that it’s an honor and a privilege to play here, and it’s a special place, and if your heart’s not here, then we’ll find guys who guy are all in. Obviously Bo wanted to get closer to family and friends and his brother, so we’ll honor that and I wish him all the best."
On pressing forward with recruiting:
"Recruiting never stops, we’re still out here looking at juniors and young kids and building relationships. Nothing’s changed as far as we go, we’re still actively in the recruiting process, and we’re doing it full bore on that one. It’s something I said we’d do when I got the job and I’m not backing down from it. We still are working hard trying to build this team."