Rainbows need immediate help
After key losses to graduation, Nash expects his recruits to contribute right away
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With Hawaii losing most of its firepower from last season, Bob Nash is looking for instant impact in his second recruiting class as Rainbow Warriors head coach.
The late signing period began yesterday with UH receiving letters of intent from forward Petras Balocka and guard Lasha Parghalava of Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College. Both will be juniors next season.
"We need a lot when you lose seven guys who meant a lot to the program, so we need guys who are a little more ready to play right now," Nash said. "I want to keep us moving forward and I think the players we signed are players who can help us do that."
Balocka will take his second shot at Division I ball at UH. He began his college career at East Tennessee State before transferring to Pensacola, where he averaged 13.7 points and 11.2 rebounds on his way to all-conference honors.
Parghalava averaged 11.4 points and hit 45 3-pointers to close out his two-year run with the Pirates.
The signing period runs through May 21.
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Although the Hawaii basketball team's latest additions hail from Europe, the signings don't necessarily signal a renewed emphasis on international recruiting.
But they'll certainly contribute to a diverse mix when the fall rolls around.
The signings of Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College teammates Petras Balocka (Lithuania) and Lasha Parghalava (Republic of Georgia) bring the number of UH players from outside the U.S. to five.
UH signed Canadian forward Adam Jespersen in the fall and are slated to return center Paul Campbell (Canada) and forward Ji Xiang (China).
But UH head coach Bob Nash said increasing the international presence on the roster was "just the way it happened."
"We're looking for the best fit for the program and these guys fit the profile we're looking for," said Nash, in the midst of assembling his second recruiting class as head coach.
UH received letters of intent from Balocka and Parghalava yesterday, the first day of the late signing period, as the Rainbows continue to fill the voids left by the departures of seven seniors. Both will be juniors next season. The signing period runs through May 21.
"We're going to keep working until we fill everything. We're off to a good start," Nash said.
Nash said both players can play multiple spots on the floor, a trait he's emphasized since taking over the program. Balocka, a 6-foot-8 forward, led the Pirates with 13.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game and posted 19 double-doubles last season, while Parghalava hit a team-high 45 3-pointers.
Balocka moved to the U.S. in high school and played his high school ball in Georgia, then spent a year at East Tennessee State before transferring to Pensacola. He joins a UH frontcourt that returns starting forward Bill Amis. Campbell played sparingly as a sophomore and Ji sat out the season with a knee injury.
"He's a physical player who can bang inside and has the toughness to bolster our interior, especially with his rebounding. But he's also quick, fast and really skilled for his size," Nash said.
Pensacola coach Paul Swanson said the UH coaches were scouting Balocka when Parghalava, a 6-2 shooting guard who was initially committed to South Florida in the fall, caught their attention as well.
"Lasha gives us another option on the perimeter," Nash said. "He can get it done on both ends of the court, his quickness makes him a great open-court defender and he led his team in 3-point shooting two years straight."
Both played for junior national teams in their respective countries and join a program that has enjoyed success with international players in past years. The Rainbow Warriors' last two NCAA Tournament runs in 2001 and 2002 were led by players such as Predrag Savovic (Yugoslavia), Mindaugas Burneika and Nerijus Puida (Lithuania), Carl English and Phil Martin (Canada) and Haim Shimonovich (Israel).