By Brian McInnis
If you've got a second to divert your attention away from the offensive coordinator situation with the UH football team, here's some basketball news for you: Jack Hackman is confirmed as the latest addition for Hawaii.
The 6-foot-5, 185-pound swingman, a 2012 graduate of perennial Oregon 6A champ Jesuit High in Portland, will be a preferred walk-on freshman with the Rainbow Warriors for the 2013-14 season and expects to arrive later this month.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity. I think it's a great situation there," Hackman said in a phone interview. "I really like the coaching staff, they all seem like really good guys and also know what they're doing on the basketball court. I think the team's going to be really good this year, we'll have a chance to potentially win the league, and who knows from there. I think it'll be a good year and I'm really looking forward to it."
He is the seventh newcomer for the upcoming year and the 17th player total on what's becoming a massive roster. Hackman's biggest asset is his 3-point shooting.
"I'm 6-5, and I try to get the shot off quick and everything," he said. "I can provide some size and shooting and all-around basketball I.Q. I think I know where to be on the floor, know where to cut and who to screen, stuff like that. ... Just try to fill whatever role Coach (Gib Arnold) needs me to fill and do my best to help the team win."
Hackman averaged about 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists this summer for the Elite 24 AAU team, and about 10 points for a stacked Jesuit team his senior year, Elite coach Greg Dundon said. He shot at or close to 40 percent on 3-pointers in AAU ball.
"He's going to be able to contribute at that level right away," Dundon said. "I think that was a great fit for him at the University of Hawaii, that the coaching staff really, really values hard workers and letting the best players play regardless of situation. Jack's a knock-down, dead-eye shooter, first and foremost. In all my years of doing this — I've coached from JUCO to D-I to working with NBA players — he has one of the highest basketball IQs of any player I've seen. ... He rebounds exceptionally well for a kid who's 6-5 and a half."
"The other intangible thing, he's won on every level he's played in," Dundon added. "He hit two key 3-pointers in the state championship game (as a senior). ... Jack just wins."
Arnold couldn't yet comment on Hackman, as his position on the team hasn't been made official.
With limited options coming out from high school, Hackman decided to go to Göttingen, Germany, to play for an amateur U-19 squad, and also practice against pros of the Göttingen Veilchen of Germany's second division. A friend of his father's coaches the pro team; it was effectively like going to prep school for a year. Dundon said it was cleared with the NCAA.
"He offered (the practice slot) if I wasn't happy with where I could have been," Hackman said. "Out of high school, I could have gone to maybe some Division III and Division II schools. But I didn't think any of those were the right fit. So I thought that opportunity in Germany would be awesome, as a basketball experience and a life experience.
"I got a whole lot better from that experience, playing against men and everything," he added. "A lot of the guys I played with were former Division I players and were obviously good enough to play overseas, so that's kind of where I was. There's a lot of American guys over there who play at that level. I could see myself competing against them and getting a lot better. I got some great feedback, they were great guys, encouraging me ... I gauged the Division I level was where I'd be at (when I came back stateside)."
Hackman said he was first in touch with UH assistant Scott Fisher two months ago. "I had a lot of time to weigh my options and think about it. From the beginning, from that first call, I thought it would be really cool to play in Hawaii, a great thing."
It helped that he is friends and neighbors with UH baseball player Conner George. "He had great things to say about it."
Hackman said he chose UH's walk-on slot over those offered by Denver and Minnesota — even without being to the islands in his life. "The biggest decision was I wanted to play and wanted to potentially earn a scholarship," he said. "It's a good opportunity to do that at Hawaii."
His addition would seem to make things tougher for a list of hopeful walk-ons which includes Malik Fields, Warren Oishi and Wesley Armbrust. There is no hard cap on roster size, but there are 18 lockers in the team's locker room, and 17 is already a substantial number.
It's looking increasingly likely that Arnold's last open scholarship for 2013-14 will be held going into the season. Or it could be awarded to a current walk-on. We'll see.
Another name that surfaced recently as a potential future member of the team was guard Daquan Phillips of Bishop McDevitt High in Pennsylvania. It was relayed to me that this isn't going to happen, and whatever indications were given on Twitter or elsewhere that he was offered a scholarship from UH for the 2014-15 season were erroneous.
The lesson, as always: Be careful about trusting information you read on Twitter, folks.