Former ’Bows still scoring

Jeff Blackett and Michael Kuebler had already completed their playing careers with the Hawaii basketball team, but still scored valuable points for the Rainbow Warriors this month.

Both graduated from UH this semester to boost the Rainbows' point total toward the Academic Progress Rate, the NCAA's measurement of a program's performance in the classroom.

Players can earn the maximum number of points by staying eligible, remaining in school, and graduating within five years of starting college. Blackett, a member of this season's senior class, and Kuebler, who ended his career in 2004, satisfied all of those requirements.

"They're the perfect scenario," UH coach Riley Wallace said.

Jake Sottos and Vaidotas Peciukas are on track to graduate and could add to the Rainbows' total next year by completing their course work.

Former UH forward Phil Martin also graduated this spring. He won't be calculated into the APR, but that matters little to Wallace.

"I love it that Phil graduated ... that's the most important thing," he said.

The APR was established as part of the NCAA's reform program aimed at improving the academic performance of student-athletes. Figures for the 2003-04 school year were released this spring to give schools an idea of their current standing and to identify areas that need improvement.

A player can earn two points in a semester for remaining in good academic standing and returning for the next term. The team's APR score is derived by dividing its total points by the total possible.

The 2003-04 Rainbow basketball team posted an APR of 941.

Teams scoring under 925 for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 academic years combined will be subject to penalties starting next year. A team under that mark would not be able to fill a scholarship vacated by a player who leaves the program and is academically ineligible.

Kris Groce won't return to UH next season, but still figures into the 'Bows' APR equation for this year. The sophomore guard was granted a release by UH and signed with Sacramento State this month.

If a player leaves the team, he can still be credited with a point by staying academically eligible.

"You want him to be eligible for his own sake so he's working toward graduation, and for the program," Wallace said.

Groce played in 11 games for UH this past season. As a transfer, he will have to sit out next season with the Hornets.

Jeff Blackett's recent graduation helped boost the Rainbows' Academic Progress Rate point total.

On hold: Wallace will have to wait at least a few more weeks before his contract situation is settled.

A proposed two-year extension for Wallace was not on the agenda for the May meeting of the UH Board of Regents, which must approve contracts before they go into effect. The regents' next meeting is set for June 21-22 at Leeward Community College.

UH athletics director Herman Frazier said the proposal had been sent to the UH chancellor and president for review. UH spokesman Jim Manke said the school wouldn't comment on the status of the contract because it is a personnel matter.

Wallace's previous three-year contract, which paid him a base salary of $210,000, expired April 30.

Almost set: The Rainbows have one more open spot on next season's schedule. UH associate coach Bob Nash is looking to add a game on Dec. 29 to round out the nonconference slate.

The Rainbows open the regular season against Final Four participant Michigan State on Nov. 19. They also have a home-and-home series with UNLV and home dates with Saint Louis and North Carolina A&T.

They play at Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Dec. 10 in a return game for the Panthers' trip here for last season's ESPN Bracket Busters game.

The Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic is set for Dec. 20-23. Joining UH in this year's Classic are Colorado State, Iowa State, Loyola Marymount, Northwestern State, Oregon State, South Florida and Western Michigan.

Camp coming up: Applications are being accepted for the UH Rainbow boys and girls basketball camp.

The first session runs June 9-11 and the second is set for June 12-14. The camps are open to boys and girls ages 5-17. The fee is $150 per session, with each camper receiving a basketball and T-shirt.

For more information, call the UH basketball office at 956-6501.

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