By Brian McInnis
Michael Thomas flew back to California on Sunday after spending Friday and Saturday as an official visitor with the Hawaii men's basketball team.
Among other things, the 6-foot-5 El Camino Real High senior guard/forward witnessed the team's once-a-week 2-hour practice (allowed this time of year), UH's early morning Saturday beach workout in Waikiki, and the UH football game/disaster against Nevada.
He's choosing between UH, UC Santa Barbara and Northern Arizona.
Here's a Q&A session from Thomas on his trip to the islands, and what he's looking for in his school. Sounds like he'll know where he's going within the next week.
Q: General impressions from the trip?
A: The scenery is great and everything. I really like these guys, they play well together. Good team chemistry. Watching their practice, seeing how structured everything is. It's really good, I like it.
Q: Your thoughts on the beach workout?
A: It looks tough, but it looks fun. Looks like they get after it. (At El Camino) individually we do (on the sand). The seniors this year, we go to the beach maybe three times a month. Every weekend.
Q: What are your top college options?
A: I would say my top choices are (UH), Santa Barbara and Northern Arizona. I visited both of those (others).
Q: When do you want to decide?
A: I'm thinking the end of September.
Q: What's important to you when you figure out where you're going?
A: I would say, spiritually, campus ministry with my Church of Christ that I'm in. Basketball-wise, coming in and trying to make an impact, getting better and maximizing my talent, so I can go as far with basketball as I can. Academically, I want to major in business ... I want to own my own restaurant chain eventually.
Q: How would you describe your own game going into your senior year?
A: I would say developing or transitioning into a wing more. Putting up a lot more shots and creating off the dribble. ... This year I'm going off the bounce a lot more and shooting. Getting better at that. We're going to be pretty good this year.
Q: You've been a pure post player in the past?
A: Not pure. I started out as a guard. Then as got taller, and what they needed, I was put at that position last year. But I'm starting to branch out more. I'm a natural wing.
Saturday's beach session was the team's penultimate before the annual "King of the Beach" festivities, where a preseason fitness champion is crowned. Hauns Brereton was last year's winner, edging out Christian Standhardinger on the final event.
Those two should get a run for their money from redshirt freshman Brandon Jawato. The shooting guard's conditioning level is far higher than at this time last year. He was among the fastest on the Queen's Beach sand.
"As of right now, I'm feeling pretty comfortable," Jawato said. "Just can't wait until next week, try my hardest, push myself. Give it 110 percent. Go hard for my team, basically.
"Last year I came in kind of out of shape, so now I'm just trying to be best conditioned, get my body right, trying to be faster, quicker, stronger. I've been training a lot this past summer, losing weight. So I'm looking forward to this season."
Meanwhile, Aaron Valdes remains in NCAA limbo. He was unable to participate in the beach workout.