Point-guard recruit has
proved himself under
How Hiram Thompson handles the transition from high school to Division I college basketball remains to be seen. But Hawaii coach Riley Wallace already has an idea of how he operates under big-game pressure.
Wallace was on hand to see Thompson lead Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) High School to an upset win over nationally ranked Mater Dei in last month's California Interscholastic Federation Division II championship game in Sacramento.
After seeing Thompson guide the Trojans to a 60-44 victory, the Rainbow Warriors coach left Arco Arena impressed with the point guard's ability and court sense.
"He's very unselfish as a point guard," Wallace said. "He took a couple of charges, made some great assists. He just seemed to be a classic point guard.
"He has a good sense for the game, and he's strong and mentally tough. ... You know he'll play under pressure against good competition."
Thompson will have a chance to compete at point guard for the Rainbows next season after sending in a national letter of intent to UH yesterday.
Thompson (6-foot-4, 175-pounds) averaged 15 points and five assists in leading Oak Ridge to a 31-4 record this season. He was also named the Sierra Conference's Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career.
Wallace said Thompson's size and pass-first mentality put him in the mold of Mark Campbell, who led UH in assists in 2002 and 2003.
Thompson joins guard Matt Lojeski and forward Ahmet Tidiane Gueye as part of next season's incoming class of recruits.
The Rainbows are planning to bring in a few more players during the late signing period, which ends May 18. They may also add a junior college point guard to this year's class of newcomers, creating a spirited competition for playing time in the backcourt next season as guards Matt Gibson, Deonte Tatum and Bobby Nash are slated to return.
While Thompson makes the transition from high school basketball to the college level, his adjustment to Hawaii shouldn't be a problem. His grandparents live in Laie and his family makes regular visits to the islands.
Thompson also had a connection to UH through his church. Former Rainbow forward Alan Andrus, who led the Rainbows in rebounding in the 1986-87 season, is the bishop of the Mormon church Thompson attends.
Sensley named most outstanding player: Hawaii forward Julian Sensley was the recipient of the Art Woolaway Most Outstanding Player Award last night at the team's annual awards banquet at the Hawaii Prince Hotel.
Sensley, a junior, was presented the award after finishing second on the team in scoring with 12 points per game and first in assists (3.1 per game) and rebounding (6.9 rebounds per game), which netted him the top rebounder award.
"When you look at the stats, it's a no-brainer," Wallace said.
"He's a well-rounded player. People might want to see more scoring, but he's more of an all-around player, and he defended the (opponent's) best player all year long. He did a good job for us."
Senior forward Jeff Blackett received the Ah Chew Goo Most Inspirational Player Award as voted upon by his teammates. Guard Jake Sottos earned the team's most improved player, top free-throw shooter and captain's awards.
Awards were also presented to sophomore Matt Gibson (top playmaker), Chris Botez (top defensive player, community service), Bobby Nash (academic) and Milos Zivanovic (community service).