Wallace says the team is committed to "finding
someone better" than the departed Logan Lee
Even with the position of floor leader suddenly vacant, Hawaii basketball coach Riley Wallace wasn't sounding the alarms yesterday.
Wallace said the Rainbow Warriors are moving forward in finding a point guard, or two, to replace Logan Lee, who recently informed the UH coaches of his decision not to return to the Rainbow Warriors next season.
The UH coaches have been in contact with at least five recruits and are hoping to secure commitments from two in the coming weeks.
"We're committed to seeing to it that we find someone better," Wallace said. "It'll be hard to replace him as a person and as a student. But as far as a basketball player goes, I'm confident that we'll have someone as good or better than him in that position next year. Life goes on.
"We're in good shape right now," he added. "We're not anywhere near a panic situation. I truly think we'll be better now, basketball-wise."
But as discussion regarding Lee's decision swirled through the UH basketball office, the team got another dose of bad news yesterday as forward Vaidotas Peciukas hobbled in on crutches.
Peciukas, an incoming senior, will be out of action for a while after breaking a bone in his left foot during an NCAA Summer League game Wednesday night.
Peciukas said he was driving to the basket when he broke the fifth metatarsal on his left foot. He will have the injury reevaluated by doctors on Monday to determine whether he will need surgery.
The injury could prevent him from working out for 12 weeks, which means he could return in time for the start of the season. But he would not be able to participate in the team's preseason conditioning program.
"It's my senior year, I came back early to get in shape and the summer was going great," Peciukas said. "But stuff happens."
Peciukas' injury added to an already stunning day around the office as the players who stopped by expressed their surprise at Lee's decision.
"I was just pretty much shocked," senior forward Jeff Blackett said. "I didn't see it coming at all. That was totally surprising.
"He's a great player and it hurts in that we're losing an experienced player, but we're going to be fine."
Lee, who would have been a junior next season, said he returned to his home in San Antonio, Texas, in May thinking he would be back at UH in the fall. But as he began preparing for the new school year, he felt a tug to stay in Texas. He said there isn't a chance he will change his mind.
"It has nothing to do with the team or the school or anything," Lee said. "I had a great time playing, everybody treated me as well as I could be treated. I just didn't realize how much I missed being home. Coming back home just opened my eyes."
Lee transferred from South Plains College (Texas) last year and played in all 33 games and started 26 as a sophomore at UH. He averaged 4.2 points per game and dished out a team-high 120 assists while sharing time at point guard with Jason Carter, who completed his eligibility in the spring.
Lee said he felt bad about leaving the Rainbows in a bind with less than a month before the start of the fall semester. But said it was a decision he felt he needed to make.
"There was never a feeling that I wasn't going to be back," he added. "I didn't make that decision until just before I talked to Coach Wallace, so this is as new to me as it is to the coaches and the team."
He is still under scholarship at UH until the school grants him a release. Wallace said he doesn't expect to release Lee until the team secures a commitment from another player. He cannot contact other schools until he is released by UH and said he'll pay his own way to another school if the need arises. Unless he enrolls at an NCAA Division II or NAIA school, he will likely have to sit out the upcoming season and would be a junior the following year.
The Rainbows signed guard Matt Gibson in the spring. Gibson played point guard in high school before moving to shooting guard at Three Rivers Community College (Mo.), where he averaged 25.8 points per game.