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2 players choosing to leave Rainbows


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POSTED: Sunday, April 05, 2009

Lasha Parghalava and Adam Jespersen will not return to play for the Hawaii men's basketball team next season, seeking to transfer to other schools.

Both players said yesterday they arrived at a mutual decision with UH coach Bob Nash after the Rainbow Warriors' 13-17 season and will look to finish their collegiate careers elsewhere.

The loss of Parghalava and Jespersen frees up two more scholarships for the Rainbows to offer to recruits for the April 15 national letter of intent signing day, bringing their total to four.

Parghalava, a junior guard from Tbisili in the Republic of Georgia, contributed 7.6 points per game and was the team leader in free-throw percentage (82) and 3-pointers made (31). He started six games early in the season but gradually saw his playing time diminish as he struggled to connect from distance (27.4 percent on 3-pointers) and with his decision-making in the flex-motion offense.

Parghalava is searching for a Division II school in Florida or somewhere in the South, he said, to boost his profile to play pro in Europe and also get his sports management degree.

"I decided to leave, because I talked to Coach Nash and it's not working out for us," Parghalava said. "So, I decided to leave and I'd like to go back to the mainland was the main thing. I want to go back.

"It's definitely cool (with Nash). We talked about it a couple times and just made the decision. He wants to recruit somebody, and we finished really bad this year. Basketball is a business, so you know, whatever he has to do to improve. He's a good coach, he's gotta do it."

Nash is in Detroit for the Final Four, and couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

Parghalava would have been part of a massive senior class next season. There will now be six seniors for UH, or five if forward Roderick Flemings puts his name in the 2009 NBA Draft and doesn't withdraw it by the summer deadline. Flemings said last week he plans to do so, with the option of returning to UH.

Petras Balocka, a UH forward, was saddened that his friend is leaving but thinks it's for the best.

"It's a matter of what's best for him," said Balocka, who committed to UH at the same time as Parghalava, his teammate at Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College. "You know, I feel bad because a good friend of mine is leaving, but he has to do what's best for him, go take care of himself."

Jespersen, a Canadian from London, Ontario, appeared in 12 games as a deep reserve for UH and scored four points. He said he's looking to transfer to either a Big West Conference school or one near Toronto. In either case, he'll have to sit out a year.

"Just after the season was done, after we lost to Fresno (State in the Western Athletic Conference tournament) I came back and talked to Coach Nash, talked to some people that are close to me, my family," Jespersen said. "I just decided that it probably wasn't quite the best fit and I should look to continue my education somewhere else.

"I think it was a good learning process, I learned a lot," he added. "My first year playing Division I ball, so it's obviously a pretty big learning curve. But I enjoyed it. I think the coaches are great and the program's moving in the right direction. It just wasn't quite what I was looking for."