Tuesday, August 10, 1999
the distance for
Carl English will leave hisBy Pat Bigold
home of Newfoundland to play
basketball for Hawaii
They say island boys hate to leave home.
Carl English is no exception, but he's taking the plunge.
English, who said his ancestry is all Irish, lives on an island -- a very big one -- 6,000 miles and 7-1/2 time zones away from Hawaii.
He signed the paper work on a scholarship here last weekend and became the University of Hawaii's backup point guard.
He's a Newfoundlander, a lifelong resident of Canada's easternmost and most forbidding province in terms of weather.
He's been a fisherman since he was big enough to throw a net, because on "The Rock," you make your living from the frigid Atlantic.
"We fish year-round," he said in the old-world dialect peculiar to Newfoundlanders. Tinged with Irish and Cornish, scholars say it's the closest thing in the modern world to Shakespearian period language.
But the 6-foot-4 English has another talent besides hauling fish - one that Newfoundland is not known for producing.
He can play basketball.
And that's why he's switching islands for the next four years.
One Rainbow redshirt who saw the 18-year-old work out in the gym during his 48-hour visit to Honolulu gave his endorsement.
"He's got the full package," said guard-forward Predrag Savovic. "He can shoot, jump, dribble and pass. He's a point guard who can jump - and that's great."
English was a prep sensation in a remote land who needed only exposure to be noticed by a major university program. He got that this summer with a touring adidas team of Canadian prep all-stars.
Legions of recruiters saw him play in New York and expressed interest. But most were looking at him as a prospect for 2000.
Hawaii assistant Scott Rigot made his play early and effectively, luring English to a climate in which he never expected to play.
"Yeah, I was kind of shocked, but I'm not complaining," he said. "He (Rigot) kept telling me how good the place (Hawaii) was and how good the coaching staff is."
When he came here, English said, he immediately liked head coach Riley Wallace and the players who greeted him. But the clincher was seeing the Stan Sheriff Center.
"That's what did it," said English. "I love that place."
This morning at 4:30 in Newfoundland, still jet-lagged from the weekend hop across the globe, he dragged himself out of bed in his home village of Patrick's Cove (population 50). English did what he does year-round when he is home. He climbed into a boat and pushed out into Placentia Bay.
"It's codfishing season," said English, who will continue to fish with his uncle every day until he leaves for Hawaii later this month.
There are lobster traps to check, crabs to catch and capelin to collect.
"I fish for a living," he said.
English has been raised by his fisherman uncle and aunt since his parents died in a house fire in the nearby town of Branch when he was only 5.
He said life is simple in bay communities like his.
Last night, English took his girlfriend for a ride. That was it. No malls, theaters or restaurants in Patrick's Cove.
"We all just have each other out here," said English. "It's not like Honolulu."
The capitol of St. John's, where you can find commercial activity, is an hour and a half away by car. If you want to "go out" in English's home area, you drive "up the road" to a convenience store in St. Bride's where the locals hang.
This week, English plans to take in an Irish music festival in St. Bride's, 20 minutes from his home. Like every Newfoundlander, he thrives on the sound of the bohdran (Irish drum), tin whistle, and fiddle.
While he conceded he might warm up to rap music before a game, English guaranteed he'll retreat more often into the Celtic vibes that are in his seafaring blood. The music is already being packed in his suitcase.
Point guard became the focus of concern for Hawaii's staff when letter-of-intent signee Ryan DelaCruz of New York reneged on his commitment to the Rainbows.
Wallace quietly went about trying to find a replacement for DelaCruz, even though he couldn't get another binding letter of intent after May 15.
He didn't want to enter the 1999-2000 season without a backup to senior starting guard Johnny White.
White played almost every minute of every game during this past season, and Wallace wanted to make sure he didn't have to do it that way again.
The Rainbows were lucky to get English, who had dominated Newfoundland prep basketball. He was a well-kept secret until he was invited to travel through the United States with the adidas team. Once he hit New York, the flood gates opened.
"I had a lot of Division I and Division II schools interested then," said English.
Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Georgetown and Notre Dame were among them.
St. John's Evening-Telegram sportswriter Bob White said English's reputation as a player and citizen were both top-notch during his three prep years at Fatima Academy in St. Bride's.
"They don't come any better," he said.