Garrett Nevels made the most of his College Summer League debut on Saturday night, with one exception.
The University of Hawaii transfer guard from Mount San Antonio College (Calif.) could not hit the game-winning shot from about 28 feet at the final buzzer.
Nevels and his new National Fire Protection team fell, 96-95, to Central Medical Clinic at the Manoa Park Gym, despite 28 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists from the UH newcomer. It was an impressive debut in most respects, despite the final score. Nevels was able to get himself going with pull-up and step-back shots, and had a few pretty dimes for teammates' easy buckets in the second half. He was shooting over 50 percent for most of the game before missing his last few attempts, including his desperation shot after bringing the ball up from the backcourt coming out of a timeout with 6.9 seconds left.
"I had a good time. Glad to be out here and playing," said Nevels, who arrived in Honolulu on Friday night. "Glad to be in Hawaii, and finally be here."
'Iolani alum Kyle Pape stole the show with a shooting exhibition for unbeaten Central Medical (4-0), scoring 35 points. UH veteran Bill Amis is making the early case for league MVP after another strong outing, 17 points and about eight blocked shots. National Fire fell to 3-1.
Nevels made it known that he is not afraid to hoist shots --- a lot of shots -- in the narrow loss. He finished 10-for-22 from the field.
"Oh, it was pretty good," Nevels said of the league's level of play. "We played as a good, solid team. They beat us."
In the first game, redshirt freshman Caleb Dressler was the only current UH player in action. His Grantco Pacific team fell 98-87 to Wealth Strategy Partners. Dressler finished with 11 points. He was clearly still getting his legs under him after arriving the previous night, and getting used to a group of new summer teammates.
"It's not the same at home. It's nice to get back and start to get back into the swing of things, feel that atmosphere again," Dressler said. "It's a whole different tempo than when you're at home. It's not as hard (there). Now you're here, and it's time to be strict again."
Above: Garrett Nevels. Below: Caleb Dressler
Dressler is sporting a clean haircut. He's slimmed down from this same time last year, when he had to play himself into shape in the summer league and the UH preseason.
Chaminade's Waly Coulibaly scored a game-high 26 points for Wealth Strategy (1-2). Well-traveled Julian Sensley added 25 in the win. Grantco fell into the league basement at 0-3.
More CSL action on Tuesday night. The full field of 13 UH players should be in by then.