Landyn Jumawan is hoping to launch to new heights this winter.
The Leilehua junior and Star-Advertiser All-State selection transferred to Humble High School in Houston three weeks ago. Jumawan was a 6-foot-1 wing for the talented Mules basketball team last season as a sophomore. He averaged 15 points per game with versatile array of skills.
With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the high school sports schedule in the islands, Jumawan opted to go to the Lone Star State, where he is staying with relatives.
“A lot of it was COVID. He wants to play ball,” Leilehua Coach Chad Townsend said. “It didn’t look good when the state went to the tier thing.”
The tiers have four stages. The state announced a month ago that organized sports would not be permitted until Tier 4, which is the safest. Hawaii is officially in Tier 2, with tourism re-opened as of two weeks ago.
“It’s kind of crazy. We don’t even know what’s going on right now (with tiers),” Townsend said. “I strongly believe he will be successful.”
Landyn Jumawan has spent much of the pandemic in the weight room. He weighed 145 pounds last season. He added 40 pounds and, according to Townsend, grew at least an inch. That makes Jumawan 6-2 and 185 pounds as a junior.
“He’s getting stronger, a lot stronger,” Townsend added.
“A lot of eating, taking protein. Lifting every day at home,” Jumawan said.
The adjustment has been swift.
I feel good. It’s different up here. The game speed and more athletic people, bigger people,” Jumawan said. “I have an underdog mentality, just go out there and show what I can do.”
In addition to Jumawan, 6-5 center Aviel Palmer transferred to Kansas for his senior year. Palmer is a bouncy, energetic defender with a quick first step.
“Our big man moved to Wichita,” Townsend said. “His family moved. He grew up in Wahiawa, but his mom is from Kansas.”
Jumawan was voted to the Fab 15 last season as a sophomore, one of four 10th-graders selected by coaches and media. His father, Josh Jumawan, is an assistant coach at Leilehua and shepherds the Posse club team that helped develop many of the incoming Mule hoopsters in recent seasons.
“There was no word in the papers or any answers on if we were going to have a basketball season this year. Our family there in Texas mentioned the season was going to start in October, so we knew how important Landyn’s junior season is,” Coach Jumawan said. “To get film on him for the recruiting process. So we made the call. And there’s still no word.”
Landyn Jumawan isn’t the only basketball player to depart due to instability caused by the pandemic. Kahuku’s All-State guard, Leiah Naeata, went to Las Vegas in July and has played non-stop with her club and teams in offseason tournaments and leagues. She will play at Palo Verde High School as a senior. On Oahu, youth leagues and tournaments have been prohibited since mid-March, when the city shut down all basketball facilities. As early as June, some states, such as Illinois, reopened youth competition.
There’s no turning back for Jumawan this season. His father believes Landyn Jumawan could stay in Houston for the duration of high school.
“We will see how this season goes. Our main concern is that he plays out this season and he keeps up his grade-point average,” Coach Jumawan said.
Landyn Jumawan isn’t sure what happens after the season, either. He hasn’t connected with a club team yet.
“Honestly, I don’t know. Let it play out and trust in God,” he said.
Leilehua was a Top 10 squad in 2019-20 despite a roster heavy with underclassmen.
“I felt real bad separating him from his boys that he played with from sixth grade,” Coach Jumawan said. “We had a strong nucleus, but I was trying to give Landyn a shot to be seen by scouts. Our summer got taken away, so it would’ve been hard for him to get looks if we didn’t have a season. But I’m proud of him for stepping up and taking on this challenge.”
Opposing coaches had plenty of praise for Jumawan last season.
“He loves to compete. He sees the floor really well and has great anticipation on defense, which leads to steals and transition opportunities,” Kamehameha Coach Larry Park said.
“He has it all. He’s built for that system Coach Townsend has installed and is fully bought in,” Mid-Pacific Coach Robert Shklov said. “Never steps off the gas. He leverages his length on both ends of the floor to get tips, steals and blocks that lead to great passes and finishes. Cannot leave him open or he will make you pay. Decision making akin to the best point guards. He also shows the ability to read opposing guards’ tendencies to make plays on the ball.”