Brian McInnis updated the universe known as University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior Men’s Basketball on Sunday night with a unique story about Samuta Avea.
For those who don’t follow prep basketball in the islands, a brief synopsis: Avea is a 6-foot-5 sophomore who was a key player at Kahuku for the past two seasons. His wingspan and springs made him one of the state’s top shot blockers, but that’s hardly the sum of him. He was also one of the top transition playmakers in the state, a point guard in a center’s body, along with 3-point range and the ability to guard any position.
In other words, a natural.
Avea averaged 12 points per game as Kahuku reached the semifinals of the state championships.
He transferred to Bingham High School in Utah after the hoops season. Some of Kahuku’s biggest fans weren’t happy about it, but they weren’t surprised, either. Some voiced displeasure with the way Avea was utilized as he was less of a go-to scorer and more of a role player after the arrival of three New Zealand transfers. That may have contributed to his family’s decision to send him to live with relatives in Utah, but he was still the triggerman when Kahuku rolled out its tough halfcourt trapping defense.
Coach Alan Akina was on the verge of taking an all-star team of sophomores and freshmen to the West Coast for summer tournament play — showcasing Avea — when the lanky sophomore departed the North Shore. Although he misses home and his family, Avea has no regrets.
He’s already gaining tremendous exposure as a player with the Utah Prospects club team. What attention he didn’t get from college recruiters while living in Hawaii, he has gained as the Prospects travel the U.S. for weekend tournaments. Several Division I and II colleges have been in touch with him, and as of this past weekend, as BMAC reported, Avea made an unofficial visit to the offices at UH with an assist from former Kahuku standout guard Clinton Parks.
Avea agreed to do a late-night Q&A with Hawaii Prep World after returning to Utah late in the night.
HPW: WOOHOOOO! Congrats on the visit to UH, Samuta. Glad to see that they recognize REAL 🙂
SA: Thanks Paul! It was really a really good visit. I enjoyed my time there!
HPW: Right on. Are you still on Oahu or back in Utah?
SA: I’m back in Utah. I just landed about 3 hours ago.
HPW: Wow, you must be beat. Thanks, this’ll be just a few minutes. Here’s what UH men’s basketball beat writer Brian McInnis wrote just now.
SA: I just finished reading that! That’s so cool!
HPW: Did you feel like it was a visit home or kind of an (unofficial) business visit to UH?
SA: Felt like home, the feel around campus has such a good vibe that feels just like home should.
HPW: Did you get to spend a lot of time back in your neighborhood? Do you wish there had been more time? Or was it time to get back to Utah?
SA: Yes, I had a good time in the neighborhood, and I got to see my girlfriend Lilli Lindgard and senior friends graduate on Thursday, so that was cool. But I had to come back (to Utah) to finish up these last days of school. I’ll be back on the island by Thursday for the West Coast Elite Camp this weekend.
HPW: Wait. You’re flying to Hawaii twice in two weeks? Woh!
SA: Yeah! It’s gonna be a really busy summer for me, but I’m excited for it all.
HPW: As one of your fans (not ashamed to say it, haha), I really hope you get all you deserve after the ups and downs of these past two years. But it’s looking very, very up right now, doesn’t it?
SA: It’s been really good so far and with my recruitment picking up it makes this move so worth it.
HPW: Has it been more interest/feelers from schools or outright scholarship offers?
SA: It’s been lots of interest and phone calls with West Coast schools.
HPW: Wow, that’s insane. You’re the same player who was in Hawaii just a few months ago, and the exposure in Utah changed everything. What’s the name of your club team?
SA: I’m playing with the Utah Prospects.
HPW: Do you guys play in tournaments every weekend across the Rockies and West Coast?
SA: We play all over the U.S. Already in the past month we’ve played in California, Indianapolis and Boise State, where I took an unofficial visit.
HPW: Dang, I am jealous. What is Bingham High School like? Sounds like a huge school.
SA: 2,500 students, only grades 10-12. It’s crazy.
HPW: Wow. Must be some serious ballers. Utah always has talent. BYU used to be unreal back in the 1980s and ’90s. Devin Durrant killed UH.
SA: Wow, I never knew that.
HPW: Yep, great rivalry back in the day. So what is the perfect scenario these next two years for you? Is it, keep playing in tournaments, get recruited by Pac-12, Big West, WCC schools… then Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC… then sign with _______?
SA: Haha that’s the dream! I’m excited for this entire process.
HPW: Is it lonely up there or is your whole family there, too? I’d be homesick if it was me.
SA: I’m living with my aunt, uncle and cousins here in Utah. My parents and sister still live in Hawaii.
HPW: That’s good. Your family must miss you, but this is a good move for you. Do you have any regrets? None, right?
SA: No regrets. Everything is looking promising from here. The time difference sucks, though. Utah is four hours ahead.
HPW: Did you cry when you landed in Utah and a week passed by? Nah nah just kidding man. Don’t answer that one. Can you mention which schools have contacted you?
SA: University of Montana, UC Irvine, Utah, Boise State, Pepperdine University.
HPW: WOW. And you’re still a sophomore, right?
SA: Yes sir, still a sophomore haha.
HPW: Before you go, Top 5 things all visitors should do when they visit Utah. Can you give me five? Go…
SA: You have to 1) visit Lagoon Amusement Park, 2) have a “Big H” burger at Hires Big H Restaurant, 3) visit the city lights during Christmas, 4) visit Scheels, the best sporting (goods) store you’ll ever go to, 5) come to a Bingham High School basketball game.
HPW: Nice work, haha. You are an unofficial ambassador to the State of Utah. Is there any possible scenario that would put you back in Hawaii, like transferring back during high school, or being officially offered a scholarship by UH?
SA: Only time can answer that, but we have something special here at Bingham High School and we could be really scary along with young talent.
HPW: Kahuku 2014-15 team vs. Bingham 2015-16 team. Who wins?
SA: Hahahah, ohh if only I could see that game for myself.
HPW: No comment? Smart move. Still the smart Samuta Avea. Any comment on Kahuku’s run through the OIA season and state tourney?
SA: Kahuku is always going to have talent. They’ll have a nice squad this coming season and I don’t see anyone in the OIA matching up with them if it plays out right.
HPW: Thank you for your time, Samuta, and best wishes.
SA: Thanks again! Talk to you soon.