By Brian McInnis
As College Summer Leagues go, this one was quite memorable.
The crowds were consistently good, there was always someone or something interesting to watch on a nightly basis, and you couldn't have asked for a better venue for the playoffs at Maryknoll's new gym.
Now that the 37th running of the league is over and Julian Sensley and Wealth Strategy Partners won the championship (88-78 over top-seeded Central Medical Clinic on Saturday), let's look back at how the 2013-14 University of Hawaii players in the league performed.
First, congratulations to Hawaii redshirt freshman Aaron Valdes for winning the league's Most Outstanding Player award. The league's voter(s) thought highly enough of his flashy nightly performances to accord him that honor despite Grantco Pacific's 2-8 regular-season record.
"It means a lot, especially in this league where there's a lot of good players," Valdes said. "It just showed me all the work I put in in the summer paid off. ... I didn't know at all (there was a M.O.P. award). It was a shock."
Most of the UH entrants in the league were able to put up consistent scoring numbers from night to night, most notably Valdes, Negus Webster-Chan, Brandon Spearman and Garrett Nevels.
It's worth noting that even with nearly the entire team spread amongst the league, no current Rainbow Warriors were on the championship team. Wealth Strategy was the only group without any.
Here was the all-league team:
Aaron Valdes, Grantco Pacific
Kyle Pape, Central Medical
Negus Webster-Chan, Solar Universe
Bill Amis, Central Medical
Leon Ballard, Clark Hatch
Kaunaoa McGee, Clark Hatch
Kawika Lyons, Wealth Strategy
Jeff Greer, National Fire
Brandon Spearman, Solar Universe
Julian Sensley, Wealth Strategy
Waly Coulibaly, Wealth Strategy
Zane Johnson, Solar Universe
Garrett Nevels, National Fire
Without further ado, UH player assessments in alphabetical order. This covers all players except Christian Standhardinger and Davis Rozitis, as well as inbound walk-on Jack Hackman.
Dressler, Caleb, 6-10 redshirt freshman, Grantco Pacific: Did not make regular appearances, and when he did, looked out of sorts. By his own estimation, did not play well. Was less willing to take perimeter shots than this time last year, but his hook shot can still fall. The up-and-down style of summer ball makes it difficult for him to find a rhythm. Bottom line: From this sample size, positives were hard to see going into first season of potential playing time at UH.
Enos, Dyrbe, 5-10 redshirt freshman, Solar Universe: Reserve guard for a stacked Solar team. Kamehameha product more than ever capable of making teams pay for losing him with his deadly 3-point shooting. Performed well in limited minutes. Still adjusting to point guard role; more comfortable as a shooter, not playmaker. Bottom line: Could surprise opponents should he get spot minutes in upcoming season.
Filipovich, Niko, 6-0 freshman, Solar Universe: Also a reserve for Solar. Solid play dictated more minutes earned from Artie Wilson over last several games. Showed ability to score, but more comfortable setting table for others. Occasionally fires high-risk passes. Needs to bulk up about 20 pounds. Bottom line: Strong chance to redshirt entering first walk-on year in Manoa, but viable long-term possibilites.
Fotu, Isaac, 6-8 sophomore, National Fire Protection: Had delayed start on summer league due to visa issues. Tore meniscus in right knee during second game, and did not return. Expected back for start of UH season. Had little to prove in summer league this time around as returning starting forward. Bottom line: Loves poke bowls.
Harper, Michael, 6-4 sophomore, Central Medical Clinic: Another delayed entrant due to visa issues. Basketball action was limited in Australia prior to flying back to Hawaii. Still not afraid to shoot from anywhere, sometimes to team's peril, sometimes to team's benefit. Played well for CMC in semifinal win over Clark Hatch Fitness. Received scholarship last spring but back to walk-on status for coming year. Bottom line: Figures to resume 12th man role.
Jawato, Brandon, 6-4 redshirt sophomore, Clark Hatch Fitness: Planned to play in summer league in Indonesia before plans scrapped. Put up bevy of 3-point shots in surprise appearance for Clark Hatch in one game, and that was it. Injured his foot and walked around in boot in ensuing Manoa gym appearances. Bottom line: Health questionable going into UH season, combined with deeper guard rotation makes him huge question mark.
Jovanovic, Stefan, 6-10 freshman, National Fire Protection: Unknown asset going into summer league. Capable shot blocker. Shaky when backing in on the post, prone to traveling. Can hit line-drive hook shots and occasional 18-foot jumper. Unlike several UH teammates, reported for summer league duty on nightly basis. Had a memorable fast-break dunk over a challenging Valdes. Bottom line: May be needed immediately as extra big body.
Nevels, Garrett, 6-2 junior, National Fire Protection: Binge scorer, as advertised. Quick release. Pull-up 3-pointer/floater in lane game must be respected. Elevates well. Doesn't have the frame to bang bodies against bulkier guards. Has ability to create for others as well as himself — usually chose himself. NFP struggled to jell in games he was present. Bottom line: Will be expected to score for UH, but will have to prove he can succeed in system.
Shamburger, Keith, 6-0 redshirt junior, Clark Hatch Fitness: After rocky summer debut, San Jose State transfer to UH became offensive leader for CHF. Displayed balanced mix of assisting vs. calling his own number. Shot selection generally solid, made 3s with regularity. Didn't get chance to play with any UH guards in CSL, save Jawato for one game. Bottom line: Did nothing to shake status as projected starting point guard going into season.
Smith, Quincy, 6-0 sophomore, Central Medical Clinic: Bruised toe limited both his appearances and effectiveness, but what was seen was impressive anyway. Can score better than advertised at City College of San Francisco as 40-point game attests. 3-point shot still not a strength, but attitude to improve it is earnest. Can get in trouble dribbling into traps. Bottom line: At minimum, will be a viable backup point guard. Could push Shamburger for minutes.
Spearman, Brandon, 6-3 senior, Solar Universe: Fully recovered from late-season injury last year. Competitive spirit has to be respected at all times. Looked to use CSL as medium to improve his 3-point shot in game action. Shot selection not great but passable. Remains effective perimeter defender. Bottom line: Will be counted for both leadership and all-around play at guard but shouldn't have to shoulder the full load himself this time around.
Thomas, Michael, 6-6 freshman, Clark Hatch Fitness: Saw limited action for Clark Hatch Fitness. Had some difficulty finding comfort zone when he was in. Impressive wingspan and raw athleticism, should fill out lean frame. Jumper is work in progress. Did not appear ready to immediately contribute at the college level. Bottom line: Minutes could be sparse to start off for Thomas, who is still seen as one of UH's biggest long-term gets of this class.
Valdes, Aaron, 6-5 redshirt freshman, Grantco Pacific: Hard to say enough about the potential this walk-on showed this summer. Ferocious dunker worked hard to improve his 3-point shot and ball-handling, and it was needed on underwhelming Grantco team. M.O.P award was a bit of a surprise considering team's struggles but he was clearly one of the biggest draws of league. Bottom line: If Valdes can make progress translate to UH system, watch out.
Webster-Chan, Negus, 6-7 sophomore, Solar Universe: Talent and swagger wrapped in a lean, mean package. For first impressions in Hawaii, NWC showed off a little of everything. Can shoot, can dribble, can pass. Can also trash talk, as evidenced when he got Sensley incensed in regular season. Bottom line: Self-confidence and patience will have to get the Missouri transfer through upcoming redshirt season. But beyond that? The future is bright.
UH walk-on hopefuls: Sophomore forward Malik Fields showed off an effective mid-range jumper and could have a legitimate shot at making the team. Not the best touch around the basket, though. Sophomore guard Wesley Armbrust had a 36-point game, but was a quiet performer more often than not. Freshman guard Warren Oishi is still trying to get admitted into UH, so he has a ways to go.