Boys hoops Fab 15: Coaches chime in

The Kahuku Red Raiders celebrated their 70-55 win over the Punahou Buffanblu in the HHSAA boys basketball state championship game. Cindy Ellen Russell
The Kahuku Red Raiders celebrated their 70-55 win over the Punahou Buffanblu in the HHSAA boys basketball state championship game. Cindy Ellen Russell

Here’s a look at what coaches had to say about some of the 2017 Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball All-State Fab 15 selections. They had much to say about the Fab 15, and bit more about those who missed the list, which is to say that we could’ve had a Fab 20, no question.

The “Extra Sauce” comments are by this pupule writer, just a bit of information to complete the summaries.

Jason Justus, Lahainaluna
Coach of the Year
Russ Fitzgerald, Leilehua: “He built a solid program, not just a good team, three years running.”

Extra Sauce: After a long preseason that involved one Oahu-based tourney, a nice win over a hot St. Francis team that had beaten a (Dan Fotu-less) Kahuku squad, there were still questions. Fair? This is a Lunas team that spends a month every summer in California training and drilling. But the MIL is far, far off from where it once was just a decade ago. How would Justus and his staff keep his team sharp, improve on what they had built from two-plus years, while playing a sub-par (Baldwin went 2-10 this season) MIL slate? Perhaps the MIL (and the BIIF, for that matter) is not so far down the totem pole. The Lunas ousted Leilehua, which had eliminated OIA champion Kapolei, before leading Punahou much of the way before falling to the ILH champs in the state semifinals. 24-2 is quite a season in Year 3 under Coach Justus. He says he’ll be back next season, which is good news for a team that will return eight players.

1. Jessiya Villa, Kahuku, Sr., 6-0, G
Player of the Year

Justus: “At times, he looked like a man playing among boys. He definitely will be a force at the next level. His command of the game is something you don’t see very often. He’s a playmaker on both sides of the court. He scored when he had to score and also distributed it and that was part of his success.”

Dean Shimamoto, ‘Iolani: “He’s the best point guard in the state. He controlled the entire game, handling the ball, breaking presses, creating for teammates and finishing at the time. Everything you want in a point guard.”

Greg Tacon, Kamehameha: “Single-handedly changed the balance of power from the ILH to Kahuku. Everything you want in a point guard. Just relentless attacking the rim. Then he knocks down jumpers. The best player in the state this year in my opinion.”

Ryan Hirata, Mid-Pacific: “In my opinion, this is a kid that every young player in Hawaii should watch. Not the biggest, not the most athletic, but is the toughest and hardest worker in the gym. I loved his demeanor on the court — never too high and never too low. He just played the game the right way. His ability to handle the basketball with such poise and control, hit the big shot when his team needed a bucket and play the entire 32 minutes per game makes him the POY in my eyes. He’s a special player who represents what Hawaii basketball should be all about.”

Fitzgerald: “They’re a different team without him. He’s the motor for the most athletic team in the state. The best combo guard in the state.”

Brandyn Akana, Kahuku: “He is relentless, where his motor is nonstop. He’ll push in transition. His will to win, he was all about business. We weren’t going to see him relax until after the season. He was here for business and what we needed to go through. He set out what he set his goal to. When it’s time for everyone to go, he’s one of those kids who stays in the gym. Ballhandling drills after practice for 15, 20 minutes. Then shoot for an hour. He has the will to win. He was all about business. We weren’t going to see him relax until after the season.”

Kelly Grant, Maryknoll: “Villa, Avea and Fotu were men among boys. College bodies. Kahuku will always outmuscle you, but when they have basketball skills on top of that, it’s all over.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 17 ppg. All the superlatives have been said and written, but there’s one last note about Villa. He had so many hot-shooting games, and because he is human, there were games when he battled against tough defenders and didn’t hit most shots. HOWEVER, because the majority of his shots were open and higher-percentage looks, he was able to get his own follow shot or his teammates were in position to rebound for putbacks. We don’t have the statistics on this factor — some refer to it as the “Kobe assist” — but it’s not a stretch to say that Villa’s misses were usually within 12 to 15 feet, with his bigs at a radius of less than 5 feet from the offensive glass. This is a distinctly favorable way of utilizing the tools around you when coach says to keep the pace up. Job well done.

2. Samuta Avea, Kahuku, Sr., 6-6, G/F
>> No. 3 in All-Defense voting

Shimamoto: “He really stepped it up down the stretch for Kahuku. Hitting 3s, attacking the boards and protecting the rim. One of the toughest matchups on the wing for any team.”

Akana: “Early on at the UH camps I got to really work at him, and he’s much better than people think. He’s a double-double scorer and rebounder. His defense is kind of, you don’t really know until he’s in there with his long arms and the way he moves, he’s a defensive stopper. Everything is above the rim for him. He got better as the season went coming back from the injury, playing with new guys. By the end of the year, he was unstoppable.”

Hirata: “He played with a ton of swagger and confidence this year and was hungry to get a state title. His length produced deflections on defense, rebounding on both ends of the floor and athletic finishes at the rim, making him a well-rounded threat. He has a ton of potential to play at the next level for the University of Hawaii.”

Fitzgerald: “He has a college-ready body. Versatile.”

Extra Sauce: Avea could have garnered enough votes to be Player of the Year and I wouldn’t have blinked. He overcame a dislocated ankle injury and by the postseason was an unbelievably athletic, skilled and clutch performer. Averaged 12 ppg.

3. Hugh Hogland, ‘Iolani, Sr., 6-9, F/C
>> No. 1 in All-Defense voting

Justus: “Hogland is such a gifted big man. He was a force in every aspect of the game, such a gifted athlete being that big.”

Fitzgerald: “A dominant and patient post player. The anchor of his team’s defense.”

Darren Matsuda, Punahou: “He was a monster at both ends of the court. He was an elite defender, in my opinion the best defender in the state,” Punahou coach Darren Matsuda said. “He changed the game with his shot-blocking ability. On offense, he refined his post moves and became a consistent scorer. You had to strategize against him and give him different looks because he’s also a great and willing passer.”

Tacon: “I stand by this statement: One of the best players to come out of Hawaii EVER. How do you guard him? 6-9 with range and great passing ability. Runs the floor like a guard.”

Grant: “The best post player in the state with his dominance in the paint on both sides of the court.”

Hirata: “He had a major presence on the floor, especially on the defensive end with great timing as a shot blocker and second line of defense for ‘Iolani’s outstanding man defense. Patience in the post on offense was impressive and people don’t give him enough credit for his ability to pass and create opportunities for his teammates.”

Akana: “Everybody knew he was everything for ‘Iolani on both offense and defense. He was going to get his and it was a matter of who else was going to step up for them. He was the threat. Everybody knew. His size creates a problem. When caught the ball and was in the paint, he had a foot or two feet in the paint on the catch. He would shoot or get fouled. Coach Dean did a great job of putting him in a great position.

“Defensively, he was rim protector. If you have a rim protector, you can do a lot of stuff on defense. Fotu, on our team, is comparable, but nobody else. They’re the biggest guys. We never went against anybody like that from Hawaii.

“He reminds me of James Williams in 1988. He was 6-8, very athletic for University High and they won it that year.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 15 ppg. Three to four years ago, Hogland was all about potential. His work ethic, trimming down and gaining strength in his lower body has been astronomical. He already had natural timing with his shot blocking. What’s most interesting, though, is that most bigs mature AFTER high school, and he’s already at an elite level.

4. Dan Fotu, Kahuku, Jr., 6-7, F/C
>> No. 4 in All-Defense voting

Shimamoto: “He’s extremely versatile for a big man. He rounded out Kahuku by providing a consistent scoring threat on the post and anchoring the back end of their defense.”

Hirata: “He is a very versatile big man with a ton of upside who showed he has the footwork, hands and timing to be very good. Real crafty around the basket and proved to be a definite mismatch for other teams in all areas of the game.”

Akana: “I think he got comfortable with the guys. He jelled with the guys the longer he was here and practiced and played. He got comfortable with the team and the system. He’s not a post player back home. He’s a wing. But in Hawaii, the post is where he makes the big difference. He sacrificed what he’s used to. It’s a mid-post off the block because he needs the space. When he does catch it with his feet in the paint, it was over. (His older brother) Isaac had that spin move.”

Fitzgerald: “He’s an athletic post with some wing talent. Julian Sensley-like. Still only a junior.”

Extra Sauce: When he starts hitting 3s and pull-up jumpers, he’ll become a legit threat as a 3 at the college level. Right now, he’s a major mismatch problem on the post thanks to his IQ and array of moves. Right now, his footwork on the wing is inconsistent, but he’s only a junior and my prediction is that he will become a formidable wing threat sooner rather than later. Another high IQ post wing wingspan and, next to Hogland and Avea, tremendous shot-blocking skills. Averaged 13 ppg.

5. Chris Kobayashi, Punahou, Sr., 6-0, G

Tacon: “Just an unbelievable shooter. His release was so quick, even against box-and-1 defenses, he got his shot off. He developed an off-the-dribble game to complement his deep 3 ability.”

Justus: “Kobayashi was somebody that you kind of concentrate on him, but the hardest thing is, he gets over halfcourt and he has range. He’s that good of a shooter and playmaker. We did a pretty good job against him, but he hurt us in so many other ways.”

Akana: “Punahou, I knew was the second-best team in the rankings and we’d definitely have to play them to be the state champs. I followed Chris Kobayashi all year. Where he goes, Punahou goes. He hit some big shots all season in the ILH, probably their best player all year. If you stop him, you have a chance to beat Punahou.

“What I liked about him is good shooters never take bad shots and that’s what I like about Chris. You take a high-percentage, don’t force it. We didn’t give him much room. Being a shooter myself, I knew that would bother him. We didn’t want him to catch and shoot.”

Hirata: “In his younger years, he was just a shooter. This year, he’s taken his game to the next level and, to me, is the best shooter in the state. His quick release makes him a threat at all times from anywhere on the court, and with his added confidence to put the ball on the floor to create a mid-range jumper or drive, that opened his teammates up for better shots. Definite game-changer who proves that putting the work in the gym pays off.”

Grant: “The best pure shooter I’ve seen in years. He only needs a small window to get his shot off.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 14 ppg. He added strength over his four seasons on the Punahou varsity, and that helped him become much more effective going to the bucket. Similar to former Kaimuki gunner Jimmy Miyasaka, who later played at Pomona.

6. Captain Whitlock, Kalaheo, Sr., 6-2, G

Akana: “He had a hard time against us because he was the only guy on that team. Another very dangerous scorer. He’s athletic, can drive, do floaters, shoot 3s. His range is a little more, but not a locked-down shooter like Kobayashi.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 19 ppg (35 treys). NBA range, long arms, excellent perimeter defense when locked in. He’s been steady since sophomore year, and if not for injuries as a senior, could have posted even bigger numbers.

7. Carver Locke, Lahainaluna, Sr., 6-2, G/F
Justus: “Carver’s grown up a lot the last three years. He was very timid, someone who was always a follower. This year, he took it upon himself to be a leader, from running the point, playing the 5, guarding (Chris) Kobayashi and then (Hugh) Hogland the next day.”

Matsuda: “Hands down the best shooter in the state. He was almost (Stephen) Curry-like off the catch with his accuracy and quick release. He was a game-changer on offense.”

Extra Sauce: A.k.a. Jeffersen Locke, he’s versatile and has a good motor from start to finish. His transition to college ball will be interesting to watch. Has all the tools. Averaged 14 ppg at the state tourney.

8. Calvin Mattos, Waiakea, Sr. 5-9, G
>> No. 7 in All-Defense voting

Extra Sauce: Averaged 20 ppg for the Warriors, but that’s only one facet of his game. Extremely disciplined with the ball, never too fast or too slow, as Coach Shimamoto said during the postseason. Very good at the point or wing, 3-point range and strong to the bucket either hand, and shoots with either hand inside 10 feet. Sneaky quick defensively and a solid rebounder for his height.

9. Jaymason Nunuha, Saint Louis, Sr., 5-11, G

Akana: “I liked him. I thought he was the best player on that team. He could do a lot of things and control the point. He was running the offense and setting the tempo for them. He has good size and handles, can score, does a little bit of everything.”

Fitzgerald: “Forced to do a lot for a young team in a tough league.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 14 ppg. Tall, long, quick, a true combo guard who worked hard to become more of a distributor after being more of a spot-up shooter since sophomore year. Like older brother Jimmy Nunuha III, he has a big motor, a solid defender and rebounder, plays bigger than 5-11.

10. Zoar Nedd, Kapolei, Jr., 6-4, G/F

Akana: “He’s an inside guy, mid-range, long, very athletic. He can shoot it. I thought he should’ve gone inside more and posted up, but that’s not his game. Transition, defensively, kind of reminds me of Samuta in what he can do. He’s young. I could see how he did well. He gave us problems with rebounding, good defender, gets up and down the floor.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 15 ppg. His corner 3 was a bonus for Kapolei, which utilized him mainly as a post player and rim protector. He could dominate on the post against Hawaii teams, but it’s debatable whether he will play the 2 at the next level. The potential is definitely there. With the guards they had, the Hurricanes rarely needed him to control the ball on the perimeter.

11. Liam Fitzgerald, Leilehua, Jr., 6-5, G/F
>> No. 8 in All-Defense voting

Extra Sauce: What a difference since his freshman season. Fitzgerald (13 ppg) became more than a spot-up gunner, handling the press, running the point, flying in from the wing on alley-oop slams. He is, no surprise, a coach on the floor for his dad, head coach Russell Fitzgerald. His return next season as a senior makes the Mules a potential Top 5 team.

12. Kameron Ng, St. Francis, So., 5-8, G

Akana: “He’s young, he’s little. He handles the ball and does what good point guards do, takes care of the basketball, gets people involved and he can score. He’s a point guard and he’s a scorer. He’s so quick and he’s an all-around player. He’s going to be really good.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 21 ppg at the D-II state tourney, named all-tournament most outstanding player. Since he was 5 or 6, swishing shot after shot on the courts of Salt Lake Mauka park and elsewhere, Ng has been a prodigy, toting around after his dad, longtime high school and youth coach Kekoa Ng. At St. Francis, the proper formula was implemented to utilize Ng’s skills with the ball (20 ppg) and he has become a proficient passer on kick-outs and dump-offs. If he returns next season — the story circulating lately is that he may try out for an AAU team in North Carolina and stay there for high school — St. Francis is the clear favorite to win the D-II state title (again). If the Saints move up, that might be the lure that keeps their best player home.

13. Jaylen Cain, Maryknoll, Jr., 6-3, G/F

Grant: “He’s unstoppable going to the basket. He dedicated himself in the weight room. Plays a lot above the rim.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 14 ppg. His added strength has only made drives to the rack easier. Cain has always been a slasher, and his 3-point shot has improved some. The talent of Maryknoll’s backcourt (Isiah Gelacio, Jordyn Perez) means Cain isn’t a primary ballhandler, which is an area he will need to master at the next level.

14. Kobe Young, Kamehameha, Jr. 6-5, F/C

Tacon: “I don’t think any player was asked to do more for his team than Kobe. He needed to score in the paint on post-ups as well as isolations on the perimeter. Then on top of that, defend in the post and switch out to perimeter players. He has gotten better every year.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 15 ppg. Listed anywhere from 6-4 to 6-8 during this school year, Young enjoys the freedom of operating from the 3-point arc in Coach Greg Tacon’s offense. Defensively, he is arguably among the top 5 shot blockers statewide.

15. Zion Shepherd, Mid-Pacific, Sr., 6-4, F

Hirata: “He had an amazing motor and will. No ball was ever out of his reach on the offensive or defensive glass. He was fearless and had one of the best jumps in the state this year. You have to watch him live to really get a sense of how physical strong and tough he is, and how much he truly changed the game for our team in his two-and-a-half years on the varsity.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 13 ppg. He showed against national powerhouses at the ‘Iolani Classic that he has the athleticism and motor to compete at rim level and on the perimeter all game long. He developed into a mid-range shooter this season, but it was defense that made Shepherd a tremendous force.

Honorable Mention

Justin Genovia, ‘Iolani, Jr., G
Akana: “He stepped it up. They were kind of waiting for someone to step up. You could tell, he’s strong, good nose for the ball and got better at outside shooting, scoring and defense. Transition, he got a lot of easy baskets. I liked him. He did well against us.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 9 ppg. His evolution from role player to key offensive weapon was a key reason why the Raiders reached the state semifinal round. Genovia was also invaluable as a defender with quick hands and the ability to convert turnovers into instant points. He actually finished tied for the 15 spot with Shepherd, but Shepherd had the tiebreaker.

Christian Mejia, Kailua, Sr., 6-4, F/C

Akana: “I love Christian, that he’s just tough and hard-nosed. He’s a football player, reminds me of Bradlee Anae, Hirkley Latu. He’ll bring it. Against everybody else, he was a double-double guy. In our scouting, we knew he was a dangerous guy. He can play against those mainland guys, Kailua did well in the Iolani Classic.”

Extra Sauce: Averaged 11 ppg. It has been a long time since public schools won more than one game at the ‘Iolani Classic against mainland programs. This season, Kailua and Kahuku accomplished this feat. Mejia’s height and size were the biggest difference for the Surfriders, but his injuries late in the season also affected his team, which lost in the opening round of the state tourney at Konawaena. Just tough breaks.

R.J. Dominguez, Moanalua, Sr., 6-1, F/C
>> No. 3 in Most Improved voting

Extra Sauce: Averaged 16 ppg. Nifty and crafty with the ball in the paint against taller, bigger opponents. Moanalua’s early struggles and late-season rise had one consistent element: Dominguez in the paint.

Zayne Chong, Punahou, Jr., 6-0, G
>> No. 9 in All-Defense voting

Extra Sauce: Averaged 9 ppg. Had some great moments defensively on the perimeter for the Buffanblu. A streak shooter from deep with skill at the rim on contact.

Cole Mausolf, Punahou, Jr., 6-5 G/F

Extra Sauce: Scored in double figures just once during ILH play, then averaged 12 ppg at the state tourney, including 14 in the finals against Kahuku. He had an up-and-down regular season before really getting some eye-of-the-tiger intensity during the postseason, arguably one of the best guards in state by the end of the state tournament. 3-point range, crafty with the ball and long defensively. If his defensive intensity stays at a high level, he could become a major force next season.

Kamren Victorino-Kato, Kamehameha, Jr., 6-1, G

Extra Sauce: Tremendous athlete with length and speed in transition.

Zach Marrotte, Kailua, Sr., 6-4, G

Extra Sauce: Averaged 12 ppg. A battler on the boards, scrappy and versatile. Kailua’s slower tempo worked well for its bigs, but had a limiting effect on wings like Marrotte. In a faster tempo, his numbers go higher. At the next level, his 3-point shot will need to sharpen.

Austin Aukai, Konawaena, Sr. 5-9, G
>> No. 2 in Most Improved voting

Extra Sauce: Averaged 18 ppg. Had a superb performance in the state-tourney win over Kailua.

Kevin Kim, McKinley, Sr., 6-1, G

Extra Sauce: The transfer from Chicago is a classic spot-up shooter, great mechanics. Averaged 14 ppg.

Everett Torres-Kahapea, Kailua, So., 5-10, G
Most Improved Player

Extra Sauce: Averaged 12 ppg. A quick release, key 3-point shooter and penetrator for the Surfriders. Did much of his scoring work off the ball. A faster pace would help a speedy shooter like Torres-Kahapea, who can get hot from deep quickly. Scored 21 points in the state-tourney loss at Konawaena.

Micah Mitchell, Hawaii Baptist, Jr., 6-0, G

Extra Sauce: Another quick-latching perimeter weapon who had another amazing season (22 ppg, 41 treys) from deep despite every scouting report reading that Mitchell must be contained. A willing post defender for a relatively small roster. At this point, he projects as a small-college 2-guard. It’ll be tough to gauge how well he could run the point because on this team, which is mostly 5-9 and under, he rarely starts the offense.

Douglas Mitchell, Waianae, Sr., 6-3, F/C

Extra Sauce: Extraordinary hops, an undersized center who battled against much bigger players with success. Has mid-range accuracy as a shooter (16 ppg). Wish he had one more year to really develop and take advantage of his physical gifts. Extremely tough and big motor.

Kesi Ah-Hoy, Kahuku, Sr., 6-0, G/F
>> No. 2 in All-Defense voting

Akana: “I know because I coach them, there are those players who you cannot take off the floor, they’re gritty, fight for rebounds, Kesi was better offensively, at the end of the year, he could hit 3s. Enough so that you couldn’t leave him alone, because now how do you guard Fotu. Those two guys, I needed them on the floor. I was lucky to have a group like that. These two guys, you don’t want to play anybody else. That disease was defense on our team. It was contagious and because of that we could stop teams when it mattered. It’s truly because of how they played every day at practice.

“This is what I liked about them. They usually guard the best two players, anyone in the state. On catch, they’re able to be in position, right there. Chris Kobayashi, Captain Whitlock, Zayne Chong. Those guys on catch, our guys were right there on them. That’s hard to teach, going through multiple screens, getting hit. That’s how you guard shooters and scorers.

Extra Sauce: Arguably, the best perimeter defender in the state along with Codie Sauvao. Ah-Hoy also was a beast on the boards when needed. Opponents often bounced off him in mid-air on the glass. Relentless on-ball defender, end to end, and I have rarely seen anyone or anything quite like Ah-Hoy chasing a defender stride for stride 94 feet all night.

Tavaki Faleta, Lahainaluna, Sr., 6-1, F

Extra Sauce: Very efficient in his role as a post banger and scorer. We didn’t get to see a lot of his skill package at the state tourney, but in the paint, he was crucial to the Lunas’ success.

Isiah Gelacio, Maryknoll, Jr., 5-8, G
Jordyn Perez, Maryknoll, Jr., 5-10, G

Extra Sauce: At one point, the Spartans had one of the best winning percentages of any team in the Top 10. Their style was dependent on solid, consistent guard play and perimeter shooting, which fit the skill sets of Perez and Gelacio perfectly.

Jeremi Santos, Lahainaluna, Sr., 6-1, G

Fitzgerald: “One of the solid all-around players on a very good team.”

Extra Sauce: His shooting was, perhaps, the biggest reason why the Lunas had Punahou on the ropes in the state semifinals. The lack of shot attempts in the second half by Santos was also, perhaps, a key reason why they lost the lead. That and Punahou’s defensive adjustments. Replacing Santos, Faleta and Locke — their big 3 — will be a big task for the Lunas next season.

And more…
Codie Sauvao, Kahuku, Sr., 6-0, G
>> No. 6 in All-Defense voting

Extra Sauce: The best perimeter defender in the state? Possibly. For his entire high school career, Sauvao has been the quiet, effective and key cog in defensive coverage whether it was on the football field or the basketball hardwood.

Helam Baldomero, ‘Iolani, Sr., 6-0, G
>> No. 5 in All-Defense voting

Extra Sauce: Exceptionally strong in on-ball defense, and just about every offensive standout in the state struggled to get shots off against Baldomero, like Sauvao and Ah-Hoy, a superb defensive player on his school’s football team. His perimeter shot improved vastly in his senior year.

Isaiah Jackson, Moanalua, Sr., 6-0, G
>> No. 10 in All-Defense voting

Extra Sauce: Incredible explosion defensively in the passing lanes, possibly the quickest burst on stolen passes statewide. Big-time hustler on the offensive boards, a crucial part of Moanalua’s unrelenting defense. It was a lot of fun to watch this team on DEFENSE as well as offense. Never-say-die attitude started with Jackson. Averaged 7 ppg.

Maninoa Tufono, Punahou, So., 6-3, G/F

Extra Sauce: Strong, athletic, versatile and he’s got two more season to go. He reminded me at times of Golden State’s Draymond Green, a guy who can defend any position, crash the boards, run the floor, score at the rim, hit the mid-range, and share the ball. How far he develops — he can hit the open 3 — will be intriguing to see. Averaged 3 ppg.

Kaulana Makaula, Punahou, So., 6-3, G

Extra Sauce: Received votes for All-Defense. He crashed the boards and challenged shots in the paint with a great zeal. Still filling out, but fearless against much bigger foes. He is, as listed, a guard first, but Punahou often benefited from his battle mentality at the rim. Excellent in open space, as well, when the Buffanblu pressed fullcourt. Immense potential. Immense.

Iverson Turno, Lahainaluna, Jr., 5-6, G

Extra Sauce: Tremendous tone-setter and maestro for the Lunas’ offense. Received votes to the All-Defensive team.

Micah Kawano, Kalani, Sr., 5-10, G

Extra Sauce: One of the many tough-nosed defenders on a Falcons squad that won the OIA and reached the D-II state finals. Though the Falcons were guard-heavy, I would’ve liked seeing him control the ball even more in the championship game. Tremendous discipline for the most part by Kalani, and it started with Kawano. Averaged 6 ppg.

Jaemi Harris, Kalani, Sr., 6-0, F

Extra Sauce: Amazing athlete, and like his teammates, bought into a system of discipline and high-percentage shots. That deliberate, opportunistic approach meant sacrificing points, but as a team the Falcons won the OIA D-II title and reached the state title game. Averaged 8 ppg.

Kapaa Nishimura, Kalani, Sr., 6-2, G

Extra Sauce: A streak shooter capable of raining in treys on par with any gunner in the state. Like his teammates, Nishimura sacrificed a lot of offense for the good of the team. Averaged 8 ppg.

Jared Elwin, Roosevelt, Jr., 5-8, G

Extra Sauce: Classic point guard with an old-school, velcro-defense mentality. Averaged 10 ppg and a bright spot for a Rough Riders team that came up short in the OIA playoffs, failing to return to the D-II finals.

Micah Visoria, Roosevelt, So., 5-9, G

Extra Sauce: Understated, but one of the best 3-point shooters in the OIA (10 ppg). Versatile enough to play the 1 or 2, excellent body control, takes contact and defends well enough to use in any scheme. Roosevelt missed the D-II state tourney, but his buzzer-beating shot in last year’s OIA playoffs was classic.

Jason Talbo, Roosevelt, Sr., 6-0, F

Extra Sauce: Inconsistent scorer with a lot of potential, still averaged 13 ppg. Has a mid-range pull-up J, could use a bit more range.

C.J. Bonilla, Moanalua, So., 5-8, G

Extra Sauce: Tough on both ends of the court, a key perimeter cog and energizer for the fastbreaking Na Menehune. Averaged 5 ppg.

Chris Sykes, Saint Louis, Jr., 6-4, F

Extra Sauce: Among the best post defenders in the ILH, a crafty low-post playmaker with mid-range accuracy. Averaged 8 ppg.

Noa Purcell, Saint Louis, Jr., 5-11, G/F

Extra Sauce: Strong as an ox, quick as a cheetah. After an outstanding sophomore season, he leveled off this year. Purcell’s ascension in football, where he was a first-team All-State linebacker, was a showcase of his agility, pursuit and wits. On the hardwood, he was inconsistent at times, but always a blue-collar worker. Averaged 7 ppg.

Payton Grant, Maryknoll, So., 6-2, G

Extra Sauce: A valuable defensive tool, long, rangy and springy, with 3-point range offensively. A classic 3-and-D guy.

Kaulana Schmidt, Maryknoll, Sr., 6-3, Sr.

Extra Sauce: Tough near the basket with a nice mix of footwork/scoring skills. Always gritty despite taller foes. Averaged 8 ppg.

Elton Naki, Castle, Jr., G

Extra Sauce: The leading scorer (14 ppg) for a young team (two seniors) that struggled to post wins. The program as a whole continues to improve competitively, posting a win over Roosevelt late in the season and pushing Kailua, Kaiser and Farrington.

Ashten Kanoa, Castle, Jr., G

Extra Sauce: One of the highlight guys for Coach Neil Bowers. He received points in the All-Defense voting.

Supilani Mailei, St. Francis, Sr., 6-1, C

Extra Sauce: Solid season for the D-II state champions. A foot injury limited his minutes at the state tournament.

Noah Kurosawa, St. Francis, Sr., 5-7, G

Extra Sauce: One of the best catch-and-shoot 3-point marksmen in the ILH.

Boris Vukovic, St. Francis, Jr., 6-3, F

Extra Sauce: A natural wing who was plugged into the low post for the Saints, who had plenty of backcourt talent. Played perhaps his best game in the D-II state championship against Kalani, a relentless rebounder on both ends. Has a chance to surge as a senior next season thanks to a tremendous 3-point shot, athleticism and work ethic.

Trey Boatwright, Leilehua, Sr., 6-2, F

Extra Sauce: Boatwright (13 ppg) stronger as the season went on, scoring from the post, able to hit the mid-range jumper and crash the boards against the OIA’s best posts. A key factor in the Mules’ upset of OIA champion Kapolei at the state tournament.

Brayden Nueku, Kaiser, 5-11, Sr., G

Extra Sauce: Top scorer for a young Cougars squad.

Taimona Wright, Kahuku, Sr., 6-4, F

Extra Sauce: Brought a much-improved mid-range jumper and became a crucial piece of the Red Raiders’ rotation as a part-time starter, part-time sixth man. At 6-4, he was a steady defender, but his ability to knock down the open elbow or wing jumper made Wright a plus-plus factor as the Red Raiders marched to the state title.

Caleb Casinas, Moanalua, Jr., 6-0, G

Extra Sauce: A streaky shooter who, at times, carried Na Menehune back into games with his rainbow 3-pointers. Averaged 10 ppg.

Duke Clemens, Punahou, So., 6-4, F/C

Extra Sauce: Among the finest sophomores in the state, a burly 6-4 center with good footwork on the offensive low post, and nice balance defensively. He is thisclose to become a consistent force on the block. A little bit more patience and he could be a 20-point scorer next season.

Cyrus Singelman, Kaiser, Fr., 6-2, C

Extra Sauce: Plenty of potential here. Averaged nearly 10 ppg despite ups and downs early in the season as he adjusted to varsity speed and physicality.

Lancen Kuni, Waialua, Sr., 5-5, G

Extra Sauce: A sparkplug for the football team, he averaged 19 ppg for the Bulldogs on the hardwood.

Jerry Lawson, Le Jardin, Sr., 6-5, G

Extra Sauce: The Bulldogs’ rise as a program is dependent on a tight core of players who have built the ship bit by bit. Lawson averaged 18 ppg, with his best games against quality foes in D-II: 22 points against University; 19 against HBA; 27 against Damien; 25 against Hawaii Prep, 24 against Farrington. Averaged 21 ppg at the D-II state tourney.

Dominic Venezia, Le Jardin, Sr., 6-4, C

Extra Sauce: Averaged 13 ppg for the Bulldogs.

Matija Vitorovic, Hawaii Prep, So., 6-4, G

Extra Sauce: Averaged 17 ppg for Ka Makani.

Bryce Johnson-Cormack, Kauai, Sr., 5-11, Sr.

Extra Sauce: Averaged 15 ppg for the Red Raiders.

Kaleo Pogue, Mililani, Sr., C

Extra Sauce: Averaged 16 ppg for the Trojans.

Ja’Shon Carter, Kapolei, So., 5-8, G

Extra Sauce: A poised combo guard (14 ppg) for the OIA champions. Smart and tough, always willing to attack the rim.

Isaiah Higa, Kapolei, Jr., 5-7, G

Extra Sauce: Averaged 11 ppg. Extremely quick, excellent instincts in the open court and surprising hops. He had a key block on a 3-point shot during the OIA playoffs.

Keyson Goins, Aiea, Sr., 6-0, F

Extra Sauce: Averaged 14 ppg for the improving Na Alii. His biggest scoring output was against eventual league champ Kapolei: 31 points. Also scored 21 against Leilehua in the OIA playoffs.

Moustapha Wagne, Nanakuli, Sr., F

Extra Sauce: Averaged 14 ppg for the Golden Hawks.

Kevin Falk, Honokaa, Jr., 5-11, G

Extra Sauce: A savvy scorer for the scrappy Dragons. Averaged 15 ppg.

Noah Woodby, Kalaheo, Sr,. 5-11, G

Extra Sauce: Started strong, but injuries derailed a promising season. Finished with 12 ppg.

Zeke Santiago, Farrington, Jr., 5-10, G
Reymar Morales, Farrington, Jr., 5-9, G/F
Felcris Ahadain, Farrington, So., 5-6, G
Chris Afe, Farrington, So., 6-2, C

Extra Sauce: Santiago was of the bright spots for a young Govs squad. Averaged 17 ppg at the D-II state tournament. Averaged 10 ppg for the season. Key rotation players CJ Liana and Mosi Afe will graduate, but the young returnees will form an interesting core. This team struggled mightily in preseason, but Morales, Ahadain, Afe stepped up and the Govs qualified for the D-II state tourney. This group is solid enough to have gotten votes as a Top 4 team in both D-II and D-I projections for next season by coaches and media.

Ryan Pardini, Kalaheo, So., 5-11, G

Extra Sauce: Accurate marksman from the arc, averaged 10 ppg. Averaged 14 ppg at states.

Colin Ramos, Mid-Pacific, So., 5-8, G

Extra Sauce: Promising, quick point guard with 3-point range. If he stays healthy, he could be a sleeper in this talented sophomore class.

Cole Hogland, ‘Iolani, Jr., 6-4, Jr.

Extra Sauce: Emerged as a solid defender and excellent entry passer to his older brother, Hugh. Showed flashes of scoring potential on the block. Averaged 7 ppg.

Bailey Alabanza, ‘Iolani, Jr., 6-2, Sr., G
Kawika Lee, ‘Iolani, So., 6-1, G/F
Frank Felix, ‘Iolani, So., 6-0, G
Noah Bumanglag, ‘Iolani, So., 5-9, G

Extra Sauce: Strictly a perimeter weapon on offense, Alabanza helped big time when defenses crowded Hugh Hogland on the block. Lee was a versatile weapon on both ends, and if he picks up some strength, he could become the X-factor — a swingman with range and the power to finish at the rim, a la Robby Mann. Felix showed potential in the postseason, a defender with a knack for deflections with the speed to finish on the break. Bumanglag had flashes of potential as a sophomore. He could have a breakout junior season. These four along with Genovia is as solid a returning five as there is with just a few exceptions.

Kailau Keola, Anuenue

Extra Sauce: In the face of adversity, Keola was a competitor and battler every night (12 ppg). Scored 18 against Kaimuki, 17 on Moanalua, 15 against Roosevelt, 18 against Kalaheo and 13 against eventual state champion Kahuku.

Frederick Harris, Christian Academy

Extra Sauce: The leading scorer in ILH D-III at 18 ppg. He also shot 76 percent from the foul line, one of the best percentages statewide.

Jake Arakawa, Island Pacific

Extra Sauce: A scholar-athlete who led the Navigators with 18 p pg.

Ryan Shin, Maryknoll II

Extra Sauce: Led ILH I-AA with 16 ppg.

As with many of the non-Fab 15 selections, here’s more on interesting players who are in secondary roles, or primary roles, underclassmen who may have different duties next season.

Kyle Moraga, McKinley, Jr., 5-10, G

Extra Sauce: In a situation with more freedom, Moraga is a catch-and-shoot as well as a pull-up shotmaker from mid-range and deep. He’s tough and clever in traffic, can finish with either hand and is a fundamentally-sound passer, meaning he doesn’t often get caught in mid-air without any options. However, in the Tigers’ scenario, he was used as a primary ballhandler, setting up teammates, and that nullified his shooting opportunities. I imagine this became reality once Kim arrived, and really, there was no other guard ready this season to assume the point-guard duties. It’s been said many a time that no offense can thrive without the right man (or woman) with the key to the ignition. Moraga was interesting to watch as a shooter as a sophomore and as a distributor as a junior.

Manoa Kualii-Moe, St. Francis, Jr., 6-0, G/F

Extra Sauce: His elbow injury late in the regular season could’ve been a disaster for most teams in the hunt for a state championship. For the Saints, there was enough firepower, depth and, most importantly, defense to overcome the injury. Kualii-Moe is a rubber-band man, a glue guy who does a little bit of everything: rebound, pass, handle the rock, shoot the open mid-range and 3, and most crucially, defend. He is long, defense any position and above all, has a basketball IQ at elite level. Assuming he is back for his senior season with the rest of his teammates, that would be a formidable group even with the graduation of sharpshooter Noah Kurosawa and center Supi Mailei — in Division I or II.


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