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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

R A I N B O W _ B A S K E T B A L L

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Rainbows expecting
letters of intent

By Pat Bigold


At least two key position players were expected to sign with the University of Hawaii this morning on the first day that basketball recruits can submit national letters of intent.

That's an improvement over 1999 when no one signed on the first day.

Haim Shimonovic of Rishon LeZiy-yon, Israel, a 6-foot-10 center-power forward now playing in his nation's premier pro league, and David Hilton, a cat-quick New York City-bred prep point guard, verbally committed before today.

Both were recruited by Rainbows assistant coach Scott Rigot, who came to Hawaii from the University of Alabama-Birmingham last year.

The players were expected to fax their letters of intent.

Shimonovic is described as a hard-nosed, talented post player who could make up for the loss of powerful 6-8 center Marquette Alexander. The 20-year-old Israeli will sign without ever having visited the Hawaii campus.

He is a member of his country's army and receives no pay for his services in the pro league.

The 230-pound Shimonovic will take his SAT next month and is expected to qualify.

Hilton, who played for The Hyde School in Connecticut and will turn 21 this month, is hailed as "the real thing." That assessment has been backed by Bob Gibbons of All-Star report who said, "He'll be their equivalent of a Jason Williams at Duke because he'll step right in there and start."

Whether or not Hilton will actually start won't be decided until October because the Hawaii coaching staff is recruiting a junior college point guard.

"I can't sleep thinking about Hawaii," the 5-11, 145-pound Hilton said in a phone interview from his dorm room in Woodstock, Conn.

Hilton, who was once a homeless teenager on the streets of New York City, was scheduled to fax his letter this morning from Kaplan House, a Manhattan group home that is his residence away from school.

"He is so quick on offense, and a phenomenal 3-point shooter," said Hyde School head coach Tom Stoup.

The Rainbows lose Alexander, who was their leading scorer and rebounder, and Johnny White, who was the team's only pure point guard.

Shimonovic could step in to play center alongside returning power forward Troy Ostler, a selection to the Western Athletic Conference's all-newcomers team.

Hawaii also returns 7-0 reserve center Todd Fields and 6-7 red-shirt freshman Phil Martin. Ostler and Fields will be seniors.

Expected to sign a bit later is 6-7, 225-pound Weatherford College (Texas) forward Mindaugus Burneika, player of the year in the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference this past season.

Burneika is described as a rugged forward who likes to go inside.

In addition to Burneika, Hawaii also is in contention for the services of 6-9 Skyline Junior College (San Bruno, Calif.) center Dennis Williams, who visited the campus last weekend.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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