An Honest
Day’s Word


By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, February 17, 1999


Hawaii can be
a hotbed for prep
basketball

FOR most of the players at the state high school basketball tournament, this is the end of a career. And what better way to wrap it up, playing in front of friends and family in a beautiful arena?

For too few, however, this is the beginning of bigger and better competition.

Hawaii players, parents and coaches haven't fully realized that there are more Division I-quality student-athletes on the floor this week than they might think.

That's too bad. There are a bunch them if you look close enough.

Everyone can see that Kalaheo junior Julian Sensley is a hot prospect. He's being recruited by the likes of Connecticut and Cincinnati. If he's able to keep his studies up -- and maybe even if he lets them slip -- he's a sure-fire Division I player.

But, after talking to a couple guys who should know, I'm convinced there are at least five more players in Hawaii who have the potential to play Division I. They just don't know it.

Or they don't believe it. Or they've never been told it's possible.

Rainbows head coach Riley Wallace agrees. He said at least two or three -- and, some years, maybe more -- Hawaii prep players don't get the opportunity to play Division I because the state isn't viewed as a hotbed of talent by mainland coaches.

"They're not here watching them," Wallace said of the coaches. "And (the players) are not in the network."

Wallace can't comment on specific players due to NCAA regulations, but he hinted at five players who are here this week.

Scott Brooks, whose son Brandon plays for Punahou, played collegiately at Bradley from 1969-1972. Brandon Brooks is certainly one of the players who could have a future in Division I basketball, given the right program and situation.

The elder Brooks believes there are more prospects than even Wallace does.

"There's three of them out there playing right now," Brooks said the other day. "There's Clifton Jones at Oregon State, Derek Christensen at USF (San Francisco) and the kid at Northern Arizona (Kawika Akina). What that shows me is there are kids with potential in Hawaii."

Brooks ticked off the names of seven players he believes could play in Division I. They might not go to North Carolina or Indiana, but there are 310 Division I schools. Surely there's a place for Hawaii players, he reasons.

The players? Sensley, Brad and Cord Anderson of Iolani, Matt Vivas of St. Louis, Ryan Hogue of Kalaheo, Everett Frye of Kalani and son Brandon.

Brooks said he believes Hawaii players don't get the proper encouragement that they can make it at the top level.

"They (players and coaches) are used to the idea that basketball players don't come from Hawaii," Brooks said. "(And) the recruiters on the mainland say what's the sense of looking in Hawaii. To me, that's bad PR and bad networking.

"It takes somebody to tell the kids that it can be done."

Tapa

Is it just me, or would you, too, like to see a shot clock for high school hoops?

Too many times this season -- mostly in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu -- games came to a near-halt.

Defending champ Iolani was the main culprit. The Raiders tried to hold the ball endlessly in their season finale against Punahou. They scored just 14 points.

That might be interesting strategy if it's your only chance to win, but it's flat out boring to the players and the fans.

A 35 second clock would make a good experiment.

Send me an e-mail with your thoughts. I'll pass them along to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.



Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.



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