The Fab 15 selection was tougher than usual.
Brutally tougher. When the Star-Advertiser All-State Boys Basketball selections were released in Sunday’s print edition, the depth of talent was astounding. Coaches and media voted for their 15 on ballot, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of agonizing before submittal.
As was the case with the Girls Basketball Fab 15, there are hoopsters on the boys side who had superlative nonconference and/or regular-season performances, but were diminished on some ballots because of sub-par state-tournament play. For others, it was the reverse, though much less frequent.
Here’s a player-by-player summary below of the Fab 15, All-Defense, Top Newcomer and Most Improved selections — with coaches’ insights. It starts with Saint Louis sophomore Pupu Sepulona, who endured growing pains and struggles as a young player, but thrived in the spotlight as a scorer, defender and leader as the Crusaders surged to the state championship.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser Player of the Year: Pupu Sepulona, Saint Louis
Boys Basketball All-State Fab 15
Coach of the Year: Dan Hale, Saint Louis
Player of the Year: Pupu Sepulona, Saint Louis
1. Pupu Sepulona, Saint Louis, 6-3, F, So.
18 ppg, dominated at states with 19 points, 8 rebounds per game at 67 percent field-goal shooting. In wins over Kailua, Moanalua and Campbell, Sepulona shot 18-for-27 from the field and 20-for-30 (67 percent) at the free-throw line along with 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 4 turnovers per game.
1. Pupu Sepulona, Saint Louis, 6-3, F, So.
>> Dan Hale, Saint Louis: “When I first saw Pupu play I thought no way this kid is in middle school. He was as strong as most high schoolers with amazing footwork and a soft touch. His drive and desire were very evident, but the sheer strength and athleticism at such a young age was stunning to see.
“When I first saw Pupu play I thought no way this kid is in middle school. He was as strong as most high schoolers with amazing footwork and a soft touch. His drive and desire were very evident, but the sheer strength and athleticism at such a young age was stunning to see.
“After last season we talked about working on expanding his game to outside the key. He always had a good outside shot, but was reluctant to take it. He put in a lot of time working on it and it developed into a potent offense weapon. This is what helped make him so dangerous. He also worked on his passing. Adding that to his game made him an even better teammate who did not hesitate to pass ball when he saw a double or even triple teams coming.
“I still marvel at Pupu’s ability to create angles to get his shot off. The way he can contort his body in the air and still get off a shot that goes in is truly special.”
>> Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt: “I saw Pupu play on TV in the state tourney last year and you could tell this kid was gonna be a handful for the next few years. The thing that surprised me the most was how well he moves and how quick he is for a big guy. Plus I think his outside shooting really came a long way this year.”
>> Robert Shklov, Mid-Pacific: “I first saw Pupu play in a club league and thought for sure either it was a forfeit and someone form the older division was playing down, or that coach had to suit up to give their team 5 players. Little did I know he was actually the youngest athlete on the court! Even then, the respect with which he treated his teammates, opponents, coaches and officials alike stood out. He is mature beyond his years both in his approach and his skill set.
“It actually surprised me more how well he assimilated last year into a veteran team and accepting a supporting role to win a championship. I knew his leadership was going to be top notch because of that temperament. I think he could easily get frustrated because defenses are geared towards stopping him and the attention he receives, but he carries himself with such humility and that is a tribute to his family and coach Dan and staff.”
>> Brandon Dumlao, Kamehameha: “We all knew about Pupu from his Sons of Hawai’i (club) days. We knew the kind of ability he had. But the level of maturity he showed this year was what made him who he was and Saint Louis who they were. He dropped some weight and just took a very business-like approach that we didn’t see when he played as a freshman. And the scary thing is that he is constantly working to get better. He still has some room to grow in the next couple of years.”
>> Larry Park, Kamehameha: “I first saw him in person last year when he was a ninth grader. He played an important role for them with toughness, rebounding and presence. It wasn’t surprising, but his defensive impact was just as impressive as his scoring. He sees the floor and anticipates really well. He is in the right place all the time. He took three charges in the first half against us in our game at Kamehameha.”
>> Ryan Hirata, ‘Iolani: “First time I saw Pupu play was in an AAU Tournament at the Convention Center. At first I thought he was already in high school because of his maturity and size, but everyone said he was only in seventh grade. He was extremely powerful and dominant, which he continues to be now in high school. His maturity as a leader definitely proved to be his growing point this year. He set the example and his team followed.
>> Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser: “The future is extremely bright for the affable Sepulona. Though basketball is his first love, he has a scholarship offer to play football for Utah. Though that could indicate that more offers will arrive before and during his junior year, Sepulona is contemplating the possibility of playing football and basketball on the mainland, perhaps staying with relatives in Washington State. After a championship season like this, there may be nothing left to prove. However, he is currently a dream scenario for growth as a basketball player. In two years, Dan Hale and his staff have kept the Crusaders busy year-round with varsity and JV leagues, practicing and working out in the weight room. Hale gives Sepulona the freedom to expand his range as a shooter, to attack the rim like a wing, and handle the ball like a point guard. Sepulona is already self-motivated to work every day on his craft, so changing the environment isn’t necessarily better or even as good. Even Kevin Durant says that since his youth basketball years to this day, he spends 85 percent of his basketball time on skills.
“Whatever happens, Sepulona will be better this summer, get better by fall, and then by next winter as a junior. Football would be, perhaps, an easier ticket to the highest tier of college athletics, but that may not be enough to satisfy his creativity and passion for basketball. There has not been a sophomore with his combination of physique and positionless skill set, maturity and graceful leadership in a very long time. Perhaps ever.”
2. Jonny Philbrick, Kailua, 5-11, G, Sr.
20 points per game including 24 ppg, 5.5 steals per game in the Surfriders’ opening-round and quarterfinal games. Philbrick was also No. 2 on the All-Defense selections. He shot 54 percent from the field (15-for-28) and 75 percent from the FT line (12-for-16) in his team’s two most important games of the season. He also averaged 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 5.5 turnovers in those two contests. In consolation play, he racked up 30 points against Kamehameha-Hawaii and 24 against Kahuku. He also had 25 points against Kamehameha and a season-high 31 against Kalaheo.
>> Dumlao: “Jonny Philbrick was the guy that you had to try to take away, because his ability to go off, and Kailua had enough pieces around him to make that a problem too. But Jonny could beat you on three levels. He could fill it up from deep, was quick enough to beat you to the basket, with crafty finishes, and could hit from mid range as well.”
>> Hathaway: “I thought Jonny was the best player we played against all year and I have had him as the best player in the state all year. I think nobody in the state did a better job of getting the most out of his teammates. When he wasn’t hitting he did a great job of setting teammates up and not forcing the shot. Coach Wally (Marciel) did a great job with him in developing the best guard in the state.”
>> Shklov: “We played them early in the preseason and we threw several different looks at him to test ourselves as well. He rose to each challenge offensively and I kept marveling to my staff about the degree of difficulty with which he was scoring. With his scoring ability, he definitely had a strong chance to make a run at state player of the year. As a playmaker was where I was most impressed with his production. Whether it was his ability to anticipate and pick off passes, or find the open guy, his overall contributions to the Surfriders went beyond his scoring. Coach Wally and staff put him in all the right spots and he routinely capitalized.”
>> Hale: “Jonny is a very talented player who was one of the most dangerous players in the state. He could hit a shot from anywhere on the court at anytime. He would also play tough defense on some of the best players in the state. He would find ways to will his team to victory no matter what it took.”
>> Grant: “He really changed the way he played this season. It was never about only shooting the ball. He orchestrated many victories. He kept his composure with such a young team around him. Very impressive!”
>> Park: “Philbrick is one of the top players in the state. He is an unbelievable scorer. In our game at Kailua he was scoring at the rim and was hitting his pull up jumper, then closed the game with free throws. (He had 25 that night.) At Moanalua, he hit a couple deep threes. He was someone that you always had to pay attention to.”
>> Honda: “Most teams marked the uber-quick point guard, forcing the Surfriders to counter and evolve. Philbrick’s mid-range game, including a pinpoint bank shot, was superb off the dribble. His motor and first step were always elite, evoking memories of former Hilo standout Alan Tanabe, among others. He was inconsistent from the 3-point arc, but the toughness and athleticism he has on both ends will get him opportunities. His game will evolve at the next level.”
3. Rondell Blenman-Villarreal Campbell, 6-3, G/F, Sr.
Voted Most Improved by coaches and media. 12 ppg, a point forward who sparked Sabers to their first OIA title and their first state title game appearance. In three games at the state tournament, he averaged 9.3 points and 5 rebounds per game, adding 2 assists, 1.7 steals with just 1.3 turnovers per contest. He shot 56 percent (10-for-18) from the field and 53 percent from the FT line (8-for-15).
>> Park: “He has a nice all-around game on both sides of the floor. I believe he was close to having a double-double against us in preseason. He also handled the ball and distributed to others.”
>> Shklov: “His leadership. He couldn’t be shaken. The steadiness with which he played while Campbell went on a historic run was inspiring. Coach Wyatt is a coach I have immense respect for and his leaders emulated his poise. Every time they needed a big bucket, defensive playmaking, or a rebound, especially in the clutch, he came through for them. He had the uncanny ability to be involved with all of the big plays, the true signs of high basketball IQ and determination.”
>> Hale: “I really liked his size and skill at point. He was a true point who would do whatever his team needed for them to be successful. He controlled the offense and brought tough defense, but most of all he was a gifted leader.”
>> Grant: “He was a real floor general. I could see both his teammates and especially coach Tau looked for him to step up his game in crucial moments throughout the season.”
>> Dumlao: “Armani was the leader of that very good Campbell team. His size, skill and athleticism were superb, but it was his basketball IQ that set him apart. He was the engine that made Campbell go.”
>> Honda: “Losing 30 pounds and transforming into a championship playmaker is not something that happens often. Blenman-Villarreal has the ability to break down a defender and get to the rim , which was a major key in the Sabers’ success. I do wonder if they became to conservative in the state tourney. It helped them get to the final with wins over Kahuku and Maryknoll, but Blenman-Villarreal wound up shooting 0-for-4 in the title game against Saint Louis, and 4-for-4 from the foul line. It might have been a combination of fatigue and Saint Louis’ outstanding defense, but it left me wanting more.”
4. Skylar Miyasato, Moanalua, 6-0, G, Sr.
15 ppg, 77 percent at the FT line. 19 points in a state quarterfinal upset of KS-Hawaii. Season-high 30 against Saint Louis in preseason, 24 against Kahuku, 23 against Campbell, 23 against Kamehameha. At the state tourney, he averaged 13.8 points and 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 4.5 turnovers per game. He shot 43 percent from the field (18-for-42) and 84 percent at the foul line (16-for-19). His 19-point performance (7-for-13 FG, two assists, three steals) lifted Moanalua over KS-Hawaii in the state quarterfinals.
>> Dumlao: “Skylar took a huge step forward this year. His maturation as a basketball player throughout the season is what raised the level for his teammates, leading to the level of success we saw.”
>> Shklov: “He was OK being their three-tiered leader. An emotional spark plug, the offensive centerpiece and the defensive ringleader. As his energy went, that’s where he took his teammates. Coach Brandon has worked with explosive athletes who lifted their teammates like Kam Kato, while Lt. Col. Wingfield had Geremy Robinson Jr., and both did great work with rounding those dynamic athletes into full contributors like Skylar!”
>> Honda: “One of the best minds among scoring guards, a treat to see. Miyasato wasn’t often stronger than defenders, but his use of angles allowed him to utilize his burst to get separation. Take away his layup, he was deadly from mid-range. For all the glory that 3-point shooting gets, Miyasato proved that a reliable elbow jumper was equally valuable — and much more consistent. Saint Louis proved to be kryptonite for Miyasato the second time around in the state semifinals. When they met at the ‘Iolani Classic, he had 30 points in a close win. Overall, Miyasato had one of the best seasons in school history.”
5. Justin Yap, Maryknoll, 6-1, G, Sr.
13 ppg, 78% FT. Season highs of 22 vs. Kamehameha, 21 vs. ‘Iolani. Playing despite a broken hand, he averaged 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.3 steals, .75 blocks and 2.5 turnovers per game at the state tournament. He shot 42 percent from the field (15-for-36) and 88 percent at the foul line (15-17). He had highs of 22 against Kamehameha, 22 against Moanalua, 21 against Moanalua, 16 vs. Saint Louis and 16 vs. Punahou.
>> Grant: “He has always been tough kid. No complaints. He played through a broken shooting hand the entire season. Surgery or play with the pain. We thought we lost him for the season. He taped up and scored 16 points the first game back against Punahou.”
>> Hale: “Justin was a tremendous player this year. He had one of the best shots in the state, but his defense was just as good. He had the knack of hitting shots when ever his team needed them. Numerous times throughout the season Maryknoll would need a big play and Justin was there to deliver.”
>> Dumlao: “Justin Yap has been a great player from his freshman year. This year he took on the role of leading that team and they looked as dominant as anyone early one. He was definitely the most complete player this year, and that’s why Maryknoll did as well as they did.”
>> Park: “Not only was he a great shooter, but he is sound and tough defensively. He scored 22 points and had seven rebounds in our game at Maryknoll. Handled the ball without turning it over.”
>> Shklov: “His attitude. A shooter like him, you wouldn’t blame him if he focused all his energy on one end. But I would argue he was even better defensively. He took things personally on that end and was oftentimes the catalyst for fast breaks because he made the big stop or anticipatory action that led to a change of possession. His discipline was contagious and you could tell how respected he was by his teammates. Coach Kelly (Grant) did great work with Justin, had a lot of great sets for him, but Yap never forced a bad shot.”
>> Hirata: “I’ve watched Justin Yap since he was a freshman and he really put work in the weight room and developed a tough mid-range pull-up games which is a lost art.”
>> Honda: “It was not common knowledge that Yap had played through most of the season with his hand injury. He never seemed hampered by it, but it leaves one question: how much better would he have been with the hand at 100 percent, pain free? It was a heck of a senior season.”
6. Mizah Carreira, Campbell, 5-8, G, Sr.
Clutch go-to scorer in the OIA playoffs as the Sabers rose to capture their first league title. 12 ppg, tough on-ball defender, rebounder. Substantial dropoff at the state tourney. Was he injured? He finished the state tourney with 3.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, .7 steals and 1.7 turnovers per game. He shot 17 percent from the field (2-for-14) and 57 percent at the free-throw line (4-for-7).
>> Honda: “The same scorer who used a phenomenal vertical leap to hit big shots from mid-range in the league playoffs simply tapered off at states. Carreira went from 2-for-7 and six points in Campbell’s win over Kahuku to 0-for-5 and two points against Maryknoll, and 0-for-2 and two points in the state final against Saint Louis. Some of that credit has to go to Maryknoll and Saint Louis defenders, but he wasn’t looking for his shot, and I would guess he might have been injured that week.”
7. Jordan Posiulai, Saint Louis, 6-3, F/C, Jr.
> 16/13 in a key state quarterfinal win over Kailua. 10 points, 6 rebounds per game at states. More than that, his length and IQ on defense created a major problem for opponents, and his passing and timely decisions on offense were crucial in the Crusaders’ title run. He went for 9.7 points, six rebounds, one assist and 2.3 turnovers per game at states.
>> Honda: “Posiulai’s emergence as a smart weapon was essential while defenses tried to key in on Pupu Sepulona. Posiulai ended up with the second-most FTs made and attempted, giving the Crusaders a consistent halfcourt offense. When Sepulona had occasional foul trouble, Posiulai was always effective with a bigger role, and vice-versa. His play in the paint will continue to be vital to Sepulona’s clutch shooting from the 3-point arc.”
8. Akila Indalecio, ‘Iolani, 5-10, G, Sr.
Voted No. 2 on the Most Improved list. 10 ppg, 86% FT. Highs of 23 vs. Faith Lutheran, 18 vs. Kamehameha, 17 vs. Maryknoll, 17 vs. Punahou.
>> Hirata: “Akila is one of the most improved players in the state. I was proud of his leadership and confidence to take the big shots, defend, get everyone involved and be our vocal centerpiece throughout the season. He trusted his court senses and had fun playing the game he loves. As a result, he had a great senior year.”
>> Honda: “The departures of JJ Mandaquit and Aaron Claytor opened up opportunities for ‘Iolani’s returning guards. Indalecio’s tenacity on defense was always there, but his resilience and ascent as a reliable scorer and playmaker helped keep ‘Iolani in the ILH title hunt.”
9. Hunter Marumoto, Maryknoll, 6-2, G, Jr.
9 ppg, elite defender. Highs include 18 vs. ‘Iolani, 15 vs. Kamehameha.
>> Honda: “Marumoto stepped into the varsity lineup with good scoring skills, but Coach Kelly Grant’s bar of excellence on the defensive side helped Marumoto become a weapon on that end.”
10. Zelston Militante, Leilehua, 5-10, G, Sr.
12 ppg, All-Defensive team selection (No. 2)
>> Honda: The Nanakuli transfer was as rock solid a PG as there was this season. Consistent, always tough defensively on ball, always keeping the offense moving. Fearless going to the rack. Nice mid-range J. Physically ready for the next level. As his 3-point shot becomes more consistent, his opportunities will grow.
11. Shancin Revuelto, Saint Louis, 5-10, G, So.
Floor general for young Crusaders in repeat state title run. Had 9 assists, 10 steals, just 2 turnovers in 3 state games.
>> Honda: He provided precisely what a very young team needed: a cerebral decision maker and tough-nosed defender with possibly the quickest hands in the state. His efficiency was a major asset for Saint Louis and its penchant for winning an enormous number of close games. If Revuelto has two less steals and two more turnovers at the state tournament, the Crusaders probably don’t win the title.
12. Leonard Ah You, Kahuku, 6-3, F/C, Sr.
13 ppg. At states, he averaged 18 rebounds per game in first round and quarterfinals. He went 19/16 against Lahainaluna, and 7/20 in a close loss to Campbell. Ah You signed to play football at Oregon State.
>> Honda: “Absolute intensity on the boards. Whether it’s football or. basketball, Ah You brought the same ferocity and pride to every battle. He didn’t just enjoy the competition and physicality. He relished it.” He signed to play football at Oregon State.”
13. Layden Kauka. Kohala, 6-1, G, Fr.
17 ppg, he is a slasher/scorer reminiscent of his father, Lawrence. At D-II states, Layden Kauka averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals per game as the Cowboys captured their second title.
>> Honda: “Twitchy, difficult to stop off the dribble, and when the chips were all in, Kauka took and made the biggest shots for Kohala. With older brother Landon and a talented returning group next season, the Cowboys have a strong chance to repeat. With Layden Kauka may have the opportunity to do something unprecedented in D-II: win four in a row (grand slam).”
14. Kache Kaio, Kahuku, 6-3, F/C, Jr.
15 ppg, teaming with Ah You as a lethal inside combo as Kahuku reached the state tournament. Kaio had 16/7 in Kahuku’s state-tourney, opening-round win over Lahainaluna, then had 9/5 in the loss to Campbell.
>> Honda: “The Saint Louis transfer got better as the season went along, getting his basketball legs and skills down pat after football season. Kaio, a promising wide receiver on the gridiron, could have a monster season on the hardwood next winter.”
15. Ayndra Uperesa-Thomas, Punahou, 6-3, F, Jr.
> 9 ppg, highs of 16 vs. Kamehameha, 16 vs. Leilehua, 16 vs. kS-Hawaii. An elite rim protector.
>> Honda: “Uperesa-Thomas was often everywhere for the Buffanblu, using his size and length — and explosiveness — to make big plays. One of the few capable of changing the momentum with a blocked shot and then finishing on the other end with a bucket or assist. His work on the boards added to his value immensely.”
Jayden Kipapa, Mililani, 5-8, Sr.
> The latest in a line of long-range Trojan shooters, Kipapa had brilliant moments through the regular season, including a sensational 29-point, 6-trey night against Campbell. He also had a 16-point game against Punahou. Kipapa finished at 10 ppg, including a 10-point effort (4-for-11 from the field, 0-for-3 from the arc) in Mililani’s stunning loss to Moanalua in the opening round of the state tournament. He added one assists, no steals and one turnover in that sudden finale.
Dillon Kellner, Punahou, 6-0, Jr.
> A consistent offensive contributor, Kellner averaged 10 ppg and shot 54 percent at the free-throw line. He had 18 points against Leilehua, 15 against Saint Louis and 15 against Maryknoll.
Casey Lyons, ‘Iolani, 6-5, Sr.
> The veteran of the Raiders’ front court had some of his best offensive outputs in nonconference games. He had a 16-point game against Faith Lutheran (Nev.), 16 against Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) and 21 against Sandpoint (Idaho). Lyons also had 18 points against Kamehameha and 19 against Punahou. He finished the season at 11 ppg with 63-percent shooting at the foul line.
Noa Donnelly, Kailua, 6-5, Jr.
> The returning starting center was steady, averaging 11 ppg, and though he was solid from the field — 7-for-9 for 15 points against Lahainaluna and 5-for-10 for 10 points against Saint Louis in the state tournament — his sub-.500 shooting at the FT line was a surprise. He was a man on the boards, grabbing 10 in the state quarterfinal loss to Saint Louis. No surprise, he did not commit a turnover in the two games that mattered most. He had highs of 21 points against Moanalua, 18 against Leilehua, 15 against Kahuku.
Kaimana Lau Kong, ‘Iolani, 6-6 ,So.
> The increase in overall strength was on display this season as Lau Kong became a force in the trenches. He finished at 9 ppg, shooting 67 percent from the foul line. He had scoring highs of 16 against Saint Louis and 14 against Kailua. He also dealt with injuries early in the season and bounced back well.
Nixis Yamauchi, Kamehameha-Hawaii, 6-2, So.
> As one half of the Warriors’ explosive sophomore combination with Kiai Yasso, Yamauchi finished at 10 ppg, hitting 74 percent of his free throws. Yamauchi had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 3-for-3 from the arc, in a state quarterfinal loss to Moanalua. He added four rebounds, one assists, one steal and two turnovers that night. He also had 16 points against Kailua, 13 against Punahou, 12 against Sandpoint (Idaho) and 11 against Bellevue (Wash.)
J Marxen, Mililani, 6-2, Sr.
> The Trojans PG finished at 9 ppg and 75 percent at the foul line. He had 12 points (3-for-5 f rom the field, including 2-for-4 from 3-point range) and seven rebounds in the state-tournament loss to Moanalua. He also had two assists, two steals and four turnovers in that battle.
Jeremiah White, Kaimuki, 6-0, Jr.
> One of the purest athletes in the state, White again ran the point for the Bulldogs and averaged 20 ppg and shot 82 percent at the FT line. He had 15 points against Maryknoll, 28 against Damien, 20 against Kailua and 28 against Moanalua. A late-season injury only slightly tainted what was otherwise bullish season. White currently has three football scholarship offers (Nevada, Army, Hawaii).
Kayman Lewis, Roosevelt, 6-1, Sr.
> Lewis stepped up to a higher level as a shot maker this season. He finished at 16 points per game, hitting 71 percent at the FT line as Roosevelt went deep into the OIA playoffs. Lewis, a standout quarterback, signed to play football at Valley City State (N.D.).
Kiai Yasso, KS-Hawaii, 6-2, So.
> Yasso is an alpha dog on the floor, never hesitating to attack the rim. He and classmate Nixis Yamaguchi nearly rallied the Warriors back in a state quarterfinal loss to Moanalua. Yasos finished with 17 points on 6-for-18 shooting (4-for-12 from the arc) that night with two boards, one assist and three turnovers. For the season, he tallied 13 ppg, shooting 68 percent from the foul line. He had highs of 17 points against Sandpoint (Idaho), 25 against Kohala, 17 against Moanalua and 24 against Kailua.
Jaron Gilmore, Kalaheo, 6-2, Fr.
> Voted No. 4 on the Top Newcomers list. The younger brother of former Maryknoll/Kalaheo standout Kaleb Gilmore and son of former Chaminade great George Gilmore, Jaron Gilmore showed plenty of grit and talent in his first varsity season. He averaged 18 ppg and shot 62 percent at the line, and at 6-2, is already the tallest among his father and older brother. He had 22 and 20 points in two games against rival Kailua, 28 against Kalani and 18 against Moanalua.
Miles Hornage, Campbell, 6-2, Jr.
> A dangerous, but inconsistent scorer, Hornage nearly carried the Sabers to a win over top-seeded Saint Louis in the state championship game, finishing with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He can score in flurries on the fast break and in halfcourt offense. He also had 10 points (5-for-8 FG shooting), no rebounds, one assist, one steal and four turnovers in a state semifinal win over Maryknoll. In the state quarterfinals against Kahuku, he had seven points (3-for-7 FG), no boards, five assists and four steals. He also had four turnovers in each of Campbell’s three state-tourney games.
Creighton Ofsonka, Mililani, 6-2, Sr.
> The gritty senior averaged 8 ppg, hitting mid-range, inside and 3-point shots while crashing the boards for the Trojans. He had 12 points (5-for-8 FG) with five rebounds, one assist and one turnover in the state-tournament loss to Moanalua. He also had 15 points against Campbell in the OIA final, playing through an injury in the second half.
Avery Pauole, Baldwin, 6-6, Sr.
> Untapped potential for Pauole, who has the frame and enough athleticism to do damage at the next level. He averaged 12 ppg, shooting 56 percent at the FT line. Season high was 24 against Lahainaluna. He also had 12 against Saint Louis, six against Maryknoll and was scoreless against Punahou.
Coby Molina, Konawaena, 5-11, Sr.
> He was a bright spot for the Wildcats in their state-tournament loss to Kahuku, scoring 16 points (7-18 FG) and grabbing eight rebounds with one assist, two steals, five turnovers. He finished the season averaging 15 ppg, shooting 67 at the foul line. He had scoring highs of 19 against Kamehameha-Hawaii and 16 against Kohala.
Twain Wilson, Leilehua, 6-0, Jr.
> The elusive scorer was often precise from mid-range, averaging nearly 12 ppg while shooting 72 percent from the FT line. He had 21 in a preseason battle with Kahuku, and 22 when the teams met in the OIA playoffs. Wilson also had 11 points (5-for-12 FG) and seven boards in a state-tournament loss to Maryknoll. He also had one assist, one steal and two turnovers in that game.
Keaka Kauhane, Kapaa, 5-11, Jr.
> The 6 a.m. workouts in the Warriors’ gym paid off for the former Kamehameha JV player. He finished at 18 ppg, shooting 76 percent at the FT line. Kauhane, a combo guard with excellent passing skills, fared well against some competitive D-I teams: 21 points against Kamehameha-Maui, 26 against Kaiser and 24 against Kalaheo. He also had a season-high of 34 against D-II Kauai, and five points against eventual D-I state champion Saint Louis. Kauhane departed from Kamehameha during winter break of 2020-21 with a plan to return to Kapalama Heights eventually. Instead, he has become a cornerstone player for Kapaa coach Kamahalo Kauhane, his father.
Kana‘au Castro, Lahainaluna, 6-0, Sr.
> Castro was one of the many high-level playmakers to not make the Fab 15, averaging 11 ppg with 62-percent shooting at the FT line. He had 21 points against Baldwin and 15 against KS-Maui. In the Lunas’ state-tourney loss to Kailua, Castro had 22 points on 8-for-15 from the field and 5-for-7 from the foul line, adding four rebounds, four assists, one steal and three turnovers.
Kaina Watson, Kamehameha, 6-1, Fr.
> Voted No. 3 on the Top Newcomers list. Watson was stellar in his first varsity season at 9 ppg, hitting 57 percent of his FT attempts. He had 14 points against Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), and 18 and 21 points in two games against Punahou. Rumors swirled around Watson before his freshman season about possibly attending Bishop Gorman (Nev.).
Dominique Mose-Smith, Farrington, 6-4, Sr.
> As Mose-Smith went, so did the Governors, who won the OIA D-II title thanks in large part to his 15 points and 15 rebounds in the final against Kalani. At somewhere around 250 pounds, Mose-Smith was more of a shot blocker and space eater in the paint than a perimeter defender. His skill set expands beyond the paint and he has 3-point range, but with Farrington, he stayed on the block and averaged 11 points per game with 73-percent shooting at the FT line. At the D-II state tourney, he had five points (1-6 FG) and seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, three turnovers against the tall Jr. ‘Bows of University Lab.
Seth Harman, Kaiser, 6-0, Sr.
> Non-stop motor, Harman is perpetual motion. He averaged nearly 16 ppg and shot 67 percent from the foul line. His season highs were against Top 10 competition: 25 points against Leilehua, 20 against Kahuku and 18 against Kailua.
CJ Bostic, Kalaheo, 5-11, So.
> Solid rebounder at his size, Bostic averaged 20 ppg and shot 72 percent at the FT line. His season highs: 28 points against Kapolei, 24 against Roosevelt, 17 against Kailua, and in two games against Moanalua, 17 and 18 points. Bostic and freshman Jaron Gilmore give Kalaheo a promising future.
Maddox Pung, Kailua, 6-3, Fr.
> The lanky, versatile freshman was voted No. 2 on the Top Newcomers list. Pung’s length and shooting touch were big pluses for the Surfriders. His ability to defend on the perimeter and block shots were valuable, as well. Pung averaged 10 ppg and shot 65 percent at the foul line. He had 11 points (5-8 FG), four rebounds, three assists, four blocks and no turnovers in a state-tournament game at Lahainaluna. In Kailua’s state quarterfinal loss to Saint Louis, Pung had eight points (4-9 FG), no rebounds, two assists, one steal and one turnover. His season highs were 19 points against Kalani and 17 against Moanalua. Bright future for Pung and the Surfriders.
Fabian Camacho, Maryknoll, 6-0, Sr.
> No. 5 on the All-Defense selections. Versatile, tough-nosed and very Draymond-ish. Camacho averaged 8 ppg, but his true value came in his ability to fill the void when the Spartans needed anything. Efficient, as well. At states, he averaged 10 ppg on 57-percent shooting from the field (17-for-30) and 62 percent at the foul line (62 percent). He also averaged five rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and just 0.8 turnovers at the big dance.
Josh Schutter, Kalani, 6-1, Jr.
> The left-handed slasher was a tough cover for defenders. Schutter’s streaky touch came from mid-range jumpers and NBA-range 3-pointers with an improving ability to finish at the rim. He averaged nearly 16 ppg, hitting 79 percent at the FT line. He had season highs of 35 points against Kaimuki, 24 against Hanalani. At the D-II state tournament, he had 16 points (5-10 FG, 3-3 FT), five rebounds, one assist and four turnovers against eventual champion Kohala. Defenses were willing to double Schutter, or at least provide extra help on his side of the court. A hard worker off the court, Schutter’s added strength next season could negate defensive schemes and help Kalani go deeper in the regular- and post-season.
Trey Ambrozich, University, 6-6, Fr.
> Voted No. 5 on the Top Newcomers list. A lot of work in the off-season transformed Amrbrozich into a solid mid-range and long-range shooter. He averaged 10 ppg while emerging as a solid rim protector for the Jr. ‘Bows. Ambrozich shot 71 percent at the FT line. ULS made a deep run at the D-II state tourney as he averaged 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while shooting 62 percent from the field (16-for-26). Ambrozich had 13/9 against Farrington (6-10 FG), 15/11 against Kauai (6-8 FG) and 10/6 with four blocks in the title-game loss to Kohala. Along with Koa Laboy and a young, but tight-knit unit, the Jr. ‘Bows have a promising future.
Koa Laboy, University, 6-3, So.
> Laboy’s strength and footwork in the paint are pluses, but his vision and passing ability separate him from most posts. He averaged 10 ppg and shot 58 percent at the FT line for the season. His state tournament was exceptional with 9 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Laboy shot 44 percent from the field (8-for-18), 69 percent the FT line (11-for-16), adding oen steal, two blocks and 3.3 turnovers per contest. With Trey Ambrozich and a solid, young crew, ULS has a promising future.
Eli Shibuya, Hawaii Baptist, 5-9, Jr.
> Active and relentless, Shibuya averaged 16 ppg against a mostly Division II schedule. He opened state-tourney play with a 30-point outing against Seabury Hall (10-15 FG, 8-11 FT), adding six rebounds, four assists, two steals, three turnovers. He finished with 19 points (4-9 FG, 11-14 FT), five rebounds, no assists, two steals and three turnovers against eventual D-II champion Kohala in the semifinals. Including a 4-point game in consolation play against Kauai, he averaged 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.3 turnovers per game. His efficiency was off the charts across the board with one exception: 3-point shooting (2-for-10), but pound for pound, he Shibuya had a stellar season.
Zion Milare, Maryknoll, 5-8, Jr.
> Coaches and media voted Milare defensive player of the year. Maryknoll’s emphasis on defense has not changed during Coach Kelly Grant’s era, and Milare brings tough on-ball coverage and twitchy defensive playmaking off ball. He averaged 8 ppg while running the Spartans’ offense. He had highs of 16 points against ‘Iolani, 16 against Saint Louis and 14 against Campbell. At the state tourney, he had 6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.5 turnovers per game. His shot went cold at 20 percent (6-for-30), including 19 percent from the arc (4-for-21). Milare shot 69 percent at the FT line (11-for-16). Milare brings a tremendous combination of skills to the table. Arrow pointing up as he enters his senior year.
Tucker Lam, Punahou, 6-1, Sr.
> Lam had one of the most distinct hot-cold seasons in recent memory. Never shy about launching a deep 3, Lam was up and down through nonconference play. He had 19 points against Lahainaluna, 16 against Mililani, 20 on Kapolei, and 20 against Milton (Ga.). Yet, he finished with 9 ppg, shooting 68 percent at the foul line. The slower pace of ILH play affects most scorers significantly. With the shot clock coming to the league next season, uptempo teams like Punahou stand to benefit most. Lam may have missed the ideal scenario by one year.
Landon Kauka, Kohala, 6-0, Jr.
> If younger brother Layden Kauka is electric, older brother Landon is a cornerstone. Foundational. His steady play and floor leadership set the tone for the Cowboys, who won the D-II state title. Kauka finished with nearly 11 ppg, shot 68 percent at the FT line, and had notable performances against Saint Louis with 13 points and 19 against University in the D-II state final. In three state-tourney games, he averaged 14.7 points, five rebounds, 1.7 assists, three steals and two assists per game. He shot 33 percent from the field at states (15-for-36), including 33 percent from the arc (5-for-15), and 75 percent from the foul line (9-for-12). His production across the board adds major value to Kohala.
Noah Flores Alexander, Lahainaluna, 5-10, Sr.
> Alexander averaged 14 ppg, shooting 64 percent from the FT line. He also had 43 3-pointers. His season high was 27 points against Kamehameha-Maui. In games against Top 10 teams, he had 10 points against Punahou and six against Kailua.
Bromo Dorn, Seabury Hall, 6-3, So.
> He averaged 13 ppg and shot 74 percent from the line. His best performance was, arguably, against Hawaii Baptist in the D-II state tourney when he had 26 points on 10-for-15 field-goal shooting (2-4 from 3-point range) and 4-for-5 at the foul line. He also had three boards, one assist, one steal and four turnovers in the loss.
1. Zion Milare, Maryknoll
2. Noah Macapulay, Punahou
3. Zelston Militante, Leilehua
4. Jonny Philbrick, Kailua
5. Fabian Camacho, Maryknoll
6. Leonard Ah You, Kahuku
7. Mizah Carreira, Campbell
8. Malik Jackson, Campbell
9. Stone Kanoa, Saint Louis
10. Jordan Posiulai, Saint Louis
1. Layden Kauka, Kohala
2. Maddox Pung, Kailua
3. Kaina Watson, Kamehameha
4. Jaron Gilmore, Kalaheo
5. Trey Ambrozich, University
6. Miles Hornage, Campbell
7. Keanu Meacham, Saint Louis
8. Twain Wilson, Leilehua
9. Bromo Dorn, Seabury Hall
10. CJ Bostic, Kalaheo
1. Rondell Blenman-Villarreal, Campbell
2. Akila Indalecio, ‘Iolani
3. Kache Kaio, Kahuku
Preseason 2023-24: Division I
1. Saint Louis
Preseason 2023-24: Division II
3. Hawaii Baptist
4. Seabury Hall