Smith tops All-Defense, Ramos voted Most Improved

Kahuku's Tolu Smith was named the Star-Advertiser boys basketball player of the year on Sunday. He is also the top defensive player in the state according to voting. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball All-State Fab 15 selections were released on Sunday.

Coaches and media tabbed their top picks in the print edition. Below are extended player capsules along with the All-Defensive Team and Most Improved lists.

Boys Basketball All-State Fab 15

Player capsules
1. Tolu Smith, Kahuku, 6-10, Sr.
> Smith averaged 21 points per game, including 34 against Farrington, 32 against Kaimuki and 32 against Moanalua. He was virtually unstoppable at the state tourney, where he scored 19.3 points per game and shot 58 percent despite constant triple teams. He also had 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2.5 blocks per game at the big dance. He finished with 23 points, 14 boards and five blocks in the state final against Punahou.
The transfer from Mississippi acclimated immediately to the North Shore, where his mother’s family has roots. The Western Kentucky signee was an instant double-double producer — tall, long and nimble with an immensely high hoops IQ. A throwback player in the best sense, Smith’s arsenal on the low post includes spin moves and jump hooks, an ability to finish going left or right that is reminiscent of The Dream, Hakeem Olajuwon. He also has a triple-threat skill set from the wing that wasn’t often on display as Kahuku’s go-to post scorer. With constant double and triple teams, Smith’s court vision and passing skills were a major part of Kahuku’s return to the state championship final. Smith was also the top vote-getter to the All-Defensive Team.
> vs. Kailua: 20 pts (5-10 FG, 10-11 FT), 10 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk
> vs. Kamehameha-Hawaii: 17 pts (7-10 FG, 3-5 FT), 8 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk
> vs. Maryknoll: 17 pts (7-12 FG, 3-4 FT), 7 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 3 blk, 6 to
> vs. Punahou: 23 pts (9-16 FG, 5-12 FT), 14 reb, 1 ast, 5 blk, 3 to
> Total: 77 pts (19.3 ppg), 28-48 FG (.583), 21-32 FT (.656), 39 reb (9.8 rpg), 4 ast (1.0 apg), 7 stl (1.8 spg), 10 blk (2.5 bpg)

> Coach says
“I had a chance to watch Tolu Smith play a couple of games during the regular season, then again in the (state) quarterfinal game. I knew he was a skilled post player, but I didn’t realize how quick he is for being 6-foot-10. His first step was really impressive!” —Kelly Grant, Maryknoll

“I think his passing game is really overlooked.  Was an excellent passer in the post and from the perimeter.  You had to know who his favorite targets were (Erickson) and try to take away the passing lanes to his targets when you double him.” —Darren Matsuda, Punahou

“For Tolu I think the most surprising part of his game was his passing. We did a pretty good job of doubling and tripling him and he was able to pass out of it.” Steven Hathaway, Roosevelt

“Tolu Smith is a very competitive young man on and off the basketball court. He is a no-days-off type of student-athlete. Never idle, always striving for perfection. If hard work pays off, Tolu will continue to be successful in life. Sky’s the limit!” —Brandyn Akana, Kahuku

2. Kameron Ng, St. Francis, 5-9, Jr.
> The junior guard considered a move to the mainland, spending the summer training and competing there. He opted to stay home and quickly dominated all comers, scoring 33 points (seven treys) in a close loss to Kamehameha. Against No. 1 Punahou, he poured in 29 points (three treys, 10-11 FT) in another close defeat. He also scored 31 points (four treys) in a win over Sequoia (Calif.).

Ng scored nearly 28 points per game, shooting 89 percent at the foul line after fine-tuning his ability to drive and draw contact. He also nailed 97 3-pointers as the Saints went 29-3 to defend their D-II state title. Perhaps most importantly for the Saints, Ng’s court vision continues to improve, setting up teammates for wide-open layups and treys. The Saints will get a full dose of top-tier competition next season with a move to D-I.

> Coach says
“After coaching against Tolu and Ng, to me Ng was the more difficult guy to guard. Tolu got three cherry-pick dunks and two more after illegal screens. He only had 18 against us. Ng we couldn’t stop. Best guard I have seen since Miah (Ostrowski).” —Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt

“Endless hours of hard work in the gym showed why Kameron is one of the best players in the state.  He did everything for St Francis, including winning back-to-back state Division II titles.” —Brandyn Akana, Kahuku

“I think there are a couple of things. One is his strength. At his size he is able to compete against players bigger and more physical, which gives him the ability to score inside as much as outside. Second is his unselfishness. If there is someone else with a hot hand he’ll get them the ball and when a player comes into a game that doesn’t play as much he’ll set them up for easy buckets. His basketball IQ is uncanny.” —Ron Durant, St. Francis

3. Zayne Chong, Punahou, 6-0, Sr.
> The senior guard averaged nearly 16 points per game on a deep, talented squad that went 30-4, winning the D-I state crown. Chong’s best games were often against the Buffanblu’s toughest competition: 26 points (four treys), then 24 points (five treys) and 19 (three treys) in three battles with Kamehameha. Chong also had 22 points (three treys) in a state semifinal win over Moanalua and closed the year shooting 76 percent at the free-throw line.

> Coach says: “Zayne’s game really peaked this year. He’s a great scorer who can make shots at all three levels (penetration, mid-range, and 3ptrs) but is also an outstanding passer and unselfish playmaker. His basketball IQ is off the charts. His ability to read defenses in transition and the halfcourt and understand offensive players tendencies on the defensive end made him and outstanding all-around player this year.” —Darren Matsuda, Punahou

> Coach says: “After coaching against Zane for the last three years, Zane has improved his game year after year.  Once only known for his outside 3pt shooting, he has elevated his game to be an all around scorer. On a very talented and deep Punahou team, Zane stepped up and lead the way to a Division I state title.” —Brandyn Akana, Kahuku

4. Zoar Nedd, Kapolei, 6-3, Sr.
> There probably wasn’t a more versatile player in the state than Kapolei’s humble senior. Nedd averaged 16 points per game, often leading the team in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. He often took over only when his team needed an offensive or defensive spurt in the late going, and his biggest outputs were against the toughest foes. He scored 23 points in a near-upset of eventual ILH champion Maryknoll. He scored 17 against the same Spartans in the state quarterfinals, and finished the state tourney with 26 points against KS-Hawaii and 18 against Lahainaluna. Nedd was voted No. 7 in the All-Defensive Team balloting.

> Coach says: “We will miss Zoar’s leadership and ability to be a coach on the court. He’s one of the best (in school history), but not just based on his ability alone. His grades, personality, selflessness, humor, character, and the list goes on describing him are what makes him such a great player for us — but also the easiest player to coach is what made him so good for us. A player like him comes probably once or twice if your lucky in a coach’s career.” —Gary Ellison, Kapolei

5. Everett Torres-Kahapea, Kailua, 5-10, Jr.
> It was a major breakout season for Torres-Kahapea, who scored nearly 21 points per game and shot 76 percent at the foul line. The swift guard had a scintillating season loaded with several scoring outbursts that sparked a young Surfriders squad. He scored 32 in a nonconference opener against Aiea and 33 in an upset win over Kapolei. He opened OIA regular-season play with 26 points against McKinley, then poured in 42 (five treys) against Moanalua. He finished with 18 games of at least 20 points and three of at least 30. Kailua went 18-12 and will return most of its roster next season.

> Coach says
“Everett became such a better ball handler and created so many shots for himself. Plus he was able to get to the line a ton this year which made him such a tough guy to guard.” —Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt

“His court sense, knowledge of the game and he being a true basketball player supported his development this season.” —Walter Marciel, Kailua

6. Kobe Young, Kamehameha, 6-6, Sr.
> Young was probably the most intriguing big man in the ILH, a shot blocker with 3-point range and strong low-post skills. He scored more than 15 points per game in league play (14 ppg for the season) and shot 68 percent at the charity stripe. His range on defense was a huge luxury. Young was voted No. 6 in the All-Defensive Team balloting.

> Coach says: “Kobe’s biggest improvement was his consistency. You could pencil in the 15-19 points and the 6-9 rebounds every game. He had a terrific year.” —Greg Tacon, Kamehameha

7. Kamren Victorino-Kato, Kamehameha, 6-2, Sr.
> For all of his exploits as a hard worker on defense, an explosive scorer and a slam dunk champion (‘Iolani Classic, Robinson Senior Classic), Victorino-Kato’s season won’t be remembered just for a 16-point scoring average for one of the top teams in the state. His suspension two-week suspension in the middle of the ILH season cost the Warriors in a big way as he missed a key game against Punahou. He had scored 22 points in a previous game against the eventual state champions. He also had big outputs against St. Francis (22 points), Kahuku (24), Leilehua (25) and Maryknoll (20).

> Coach says: “Kam’s impact this year was his ability to make others better. There were times that he passed on shots to get guys easier looks. And of course his athleticism just jumped off the charts this season.” —Greg Tacon, Kamehameha

8. Nalu Kahapea, Kamehameha-Hawaii, 6-5, Sr.
> The senior was a matchup nightmare for most opposing bigs, able to post up with either hand, handle the ball and stroke the open 3. He had huge games in BIIF play, including 29 points against Hilo, 28 against Keaau, 26 against Waiakea and Kealakehe. He also scored 19 points against Kahuku and 26 against Kapolei. His best nonconference performance was against Alaska powerhouse South Anchorage with 23 points.

> Coach says: “Nalu’s most valuable skills he possesses are his ability to attack from every where on the basketball court. He has the ability to post up and finish with both hands, he can square up and knock down the mid range jumper and he has the ability to shoot the 3 as well. He was also very effective against pressure and was our release valve when we needed one.

“Obviously his ability to score has improved drastically over the past year, but more importantly his attitude! I was able to challenge him and he responded. He also was very consistent in what he did. He never missed a workout and dominated every day at practice!

“I believe he has the ability, if he continues to improve and work hard, to excel at the next level. He has the size, strength and skill set to play college basketball, he will just need to adjust to the speed. Once he gets used to the speed at the next level, I think he can have a lot of success. It’s funny because I told him time and time again he is built like a division one tight end or defensive end and I think he would be a really good football player as well!

“To be honest, I don’t know what his most underrated aspect is! In the beginning of the season, it was his 3 point shot, but that didn’t last too long. He ended up being a really smart post player and he learned over the course of the season (being double-teamed every game) when to attack to score and when to kick to open teammates.” —Mea Wong, Kamehameha-Hawaii

9. Andrew Kearney, Kalaheo, 6-4, Sr.
> Another season of ankle issues didn’t stop the explosive senior from defending the rim, hitting key shots and free throws, and leading the Mustangs to a stunning title run in the OIA. Kearney scored large in nonconference and OIA play with highs of 24 points against Seabury Hall, 19 against eventual state champion Punahou, 26 against Saint Louis, 23 against Kaimuki and 21 in an OIA semifinal win over Kapolei. His re-injured ankle slowed his scoring after that, but he still provided enough offense and defense to be a vital cog in the paint for Kalaheo. Kearney was voted No. 8 in the All-Defensive Team balloting.

> Coach says: “Kearney probably went harder to the hoop than any player in the state. Kid was strong and explosive. Plus he had pretty decent touch. But his aggressiveness is what stood out to me.” —Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt

10. Cole Arceneaux, Punahou, 6-0, Sr.
> Arceneaux’s value extended well beyond point and wing duties, though he was a key playmaker as an accelerator, scorer (9 points per game) and passer for the state champion Buffanblu. It was his defense, quick hands and feet that helped trigger Punahou’s stifling fullcourt pressure. There may not have been a playmaker with a bigger motor. Arceneaux was voted No. 2 in the All-Defensive Team balloting.

> Coach says: “He became a great leader for our team this year especially after missing last year due to injury.  Did whatever the team needed to help us win. Very unselfish, hard worker and competitor. Was our best guard defender who took defense personally and often shut down the opposing team’s best offensive guards.” —Darren Matsuda, Punahou

11. Jaylen Cain, Maryknoll, 6-3, Sr.
> Cain’s production increased as the Spartans made a run to the ILH title. He scored 15 points against ‘Iolani and 15 more in the ILH championship win over Punahou. His ability to drive through creases of any defense gave Maryknoll the consistency it needed against powerhouse competition. He scored just under 10 points per game for the deep, talented Spartans.

> Coach says: “Jaylen was a total team player. nce Ethan Rudometkin went down with a leg injury, Jaylen was forced to play out of position. Not once did he ever complain about his new role. Jaylen was our best rebounder and attack the basket player on our team.” —Kelly Grant, Maryknoll

12. Jordyn Perez, Maryknoll, 5-10, Sr.
> A true defensive ballhawk, the senior guard directed one of the top programs in the state and stepped up his scoring late in the season as the Spartans rose to the ILH championship. He scored 25 points in two battles with Punahou to close the league season. Perez was voted No. 3 in the All-Defensive Team balloting.

> Coach says: “Jordyn ended up with a 2.5/1 assist to turn over ratio for the season. He had the ball in his hands the majority of the time. When Jordyn’s game was on so did the team.” —Kelly Grant, Maryknoll

13. Micah Mitchell, Hawaii Baptist, 6-0, Sr.
> The burden of scoring was a blessing to Mitchell, who scored 27 points per game as a senior despite being the focus of every defensive scheme. He poured in 33 points against Baldwin, 31 against Leigh (Calif.) and 44 against Sequoia (Calif.) during nonconference play. His scoring onslaught continued in ILH D-II play, capped by a 40-point performance in a playoff loss to University.

> Coach says: “Obviously Micah has continued to improve his shooting and his shooting range. His 344 three-pointers made over his four year career (not to mention his 13 threes made in a single game) has to be a state record and I seriously doubt it will ever be broken. He has also continued to work hard on his ball handling. Coach Dennis Agena has had a huge impact on his game and deserves a lot of credit for Micah’s success.

“He also worked religiously in the weight room to get stronger and more physical. His commitment to the weight room has really paid huge dividends for him as he has been the focal point of every opponent’s defensive scheme against us. It has allowed him to be better prepared for the physicality of those defensive schemes and allowed him to over come them. He also added a crafty mid-range game after his junior season to create more opportunities for himself. All of these spices that he has added to the sauce have resulted in our team successes over the last four years – a league title in 2015, four straight winning seasons, and 20 wins this year. None of that would have happened without Micah and the work he put in.

“The most underrated aspect of what Micah does on and off the court has to be his humility and demeanor. He is always even-keeled and never gets too high or too low emotionally. His quiet confidence has a calming effect on our very young team. That being said, I think his humbleness is his most underrated quality. Micah has always been about the team and never about himself. As many accolades as he has garnered in the last couple of years, he has remained a humble team-first player. These are the qualities that Micah embodies that any coach or parent would be proud of. I will really miss him.” —George Weeks, Hawaii Baptist

14. Isiah Gelacio, Maryknoll, 5-8, Sr.
> The trusty long-range bomber averaged nearly 10 points per game in Maryknoll’s diversified offense while sharing backcourt duties with Perez. That gave the Spartans an elite combination of ballhandling that sparked the program to the ILH crown.

> Coach says: “Isiah played out of position. I asked him when he was an underclassman to play the shooting guard. He gladly accepted, knowing that having both Jordyn and himself on the court at the same time was best for the team. He is definitely not afraid to take a shot with the game on the line.”
—Kelly Grant, Maryknoll

15. Kyle Moraga, McKinley, 5-10, Sr.
> Moraga scored 12 points per game, but his responsibilities included multiple roles as a point guard, scorer, rebounder and rim protector. He scored 24 points in a near-upset of Maryknoll, and 16 and 19 in losses to Kahuku. The measure of his value was that he eschewed scoring opportunities in a ball-control game plan that gave the Tigers their best chance to win games despite a very small roster. McKinley went 6-4 in league play and reached the state tournament.

> Coach says: “With an inexperience team, Kyle’s leadership impacted are team the most. He was a coach on the court and understood exactly what the coaches asked. He made other players better and took it upon himself to make plays when on offense and defense. Kyle also contributed in the rebounding department. He had quick leaping abilities and good anticipation where the rebound would fall.

“Our turning point came after an emotional loss to Kailua by three points, Kahuku by three, and Kalaheo by five. I was very proud how our team responded the next game against a very talented Moanalua team. We also gained confidence playing a close game against Kahuku 45-48. We attacked the basket regardless how much height advantage Kahuku had against us. Started believing we could compete against any team.

“This year Kyle was aggressive and stronger to the basket. He dedicated the offseason lifting weights and increasing his explosion. He is one of the few players who shoots 3-point jump shots.” —Duane Omori, McKinley

Honorable mention
Liam Fitzgerald, Leilehua, 6-5, Sr.
> Averaged 16 points per game and shot 73 percent from the free-throw line. Highlights include 16 points against eventual MIL champion Lahainaluna and 21 against Moanalua, also in nonconference play. The versatile senior had his biggest scoring outputs in OIA West play, including 23 against eventual state semifinalist Kapolei. He also tallied 23 against Pearl City. In the playoffs, Fitzgerald scored 14 in a loss to McKinley and 20 in a defeat at the hands of Moanalua. The Mules were physically one of the most talented teams in the OIA, featuring a sharpshooter/shot blocker in Fitzgerald, along with solid point-guard and center play. Often, they didn’t get a spark until the final minutes of games, when Fitzgerald sometimes took control. They just fell short of qualifying for the state tourney. Fitzgerald already fits the mold of a college 2-guard offensively and interestingly is probably a better defender than wing cover man at this point. He has gotten significantly stronger and has room to fill out at the next level. Classic 3-and-D marksman in the making.

> Coach says: “Liam is a very tough matchup, possibly the toughest in the state, because he can handle the ball, shoot the 3, and post you up. Such a good shot and a very high IQ.” —Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt

Caleb Casinas, Moanalua, 6-0, Sr.
> Averaged 11 points per game, shooting 76 percent from the foul line. In a team with less depth and talent, the quick-slashing senior clearly would score more. He was hit-and-miss, scoring in single figures often in nonconference play. Casinas had his biggest games against Kalaheo (18 points) and Punahou (21), while scoring in single digits for half of Moanalua’s regular-season games. That’s a byproduct of Na Menehune’s scoring depth, especially on the 3-point arc. Moanalua had its struggles despite all the offensive weaponry, but got stronger defensively late in the season and reached the state semifinals. Casinas isn’t a physical defender yet, but as a shooter, he could thrive given the opportunity at the next level.

Marcus Tobin, Maryknoll, 6-7, Jr.
> Averaged 9 points per game and shot 60 percent at the foul line. After a slow start offensively, Tobin found more consistency during the ILH regular season. He was stronger as a junior and that sustained him through a long trek to the league championship. He scored 13 points in the ILH final against Punahou. Tobin also scored 14 points against Kapolei in the state quarterfinals. He was comfortable with the mid-range jumper, particularly on the baseline, and will get a major opportunity to step up again next season after a handful of key Spartans graduate.

> Coach says: “Marcus really worked on getting stronger over the off-season, which helped him become a defensive presence in the post. Marcus altered a lot of shots throughout the course of the year. Marcus also averaged nearly 10 points a game.” —Kelly Grant, Maryknoll

Micah Visoria, Roosevelt, 5-10, Jr.
> The smooth-shooting junior hit 48 3-pointers and averaged 16 points per game. He also shot 76 percent from the free-throw line. Visoria had most of his top scoring outputs against ILH teams in nonconference play: 19 against Mid-Pacific, 15 against ‘Iolani and 20 against Saint Louis. In OIA play, he scored 16 against Kaiser and 23 (four treys) against Kahuku. He also scored 26 points against McKinley and 22 on Moanalua — all D-I teams. In the D-II playoffs, Visoria had 25 against Nanakuli and 29 against Pearl City, sinking 25 of 27 at the foul line (combined). He had 11 points and eight turnovers in a loss to Kalani in the OIA D-II final. Visoria also scored 22 points in a loss to eventual champion St. Francis in the D-II state quarterfinals.

> Coach says: “Micah is the man I want to take the last shot in every game. We don’t get anywhere this year without him. Think he played every minute of every game except 2-3. He should become my first 1,000-point scorer next season. His ball handling and ability to take guys to the hoop helped take him to the next level this year. I think he should be in the POY conversation next year for sure (I think he should have made All Conference 1st team for sure). Kid is already in the top 5 best players I have coached right up there with Kaipo Pale and Kevin Foster. No question the best shooter I have ever coached. Most underrated part of his game is his rebounding. He drops down a lot in our zone and does a great job of boxing out and grabbing boards.” —Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt

Kaulana Makaula, Punahou, 6-3, Jr.
> Versatile on both ends, and his increased strength made him a valuable chess piece defensively for the state-champion Buffanblu. Makaula averaged 9 points per game, shooting 63 percent at the free-throw line. However, his ability to cover any position was key. Makaula was voted No. 9 on the All-Defensive Team. Like Maryknoll, Punahou graduates a truckload of talented seniors. Like Tobin of Maryknoll, Makaula will get a big chance to step up offensively with the opportunity.

> Coach says: “Kaulana was our best big defender. We can have him guard any position 1 through 5. Matured a lot as a defender and stayed out of foul trouble, being physical, but understanding how the game would be called. Our top rebounder, he was the best at helping us turn defense into instant offense by often leading the break or making an advance pass up the court. A very, very underrated passer, one of our top assist leaders on the team. Did whatever it took to help the team win.” —Darren Matsuda, Punahou

Duke Clemens, Punahou, 6-5, Jr.
> An old-school center with silky-smooth footwork and an arsenal of reverse layups and up-and-unders. Clemens was used strategically by Coach Darren Matsuda, employing the scoring skill set on smaller defender or even teams with slower centers. Against teams that went five-out, Clemens often was substituted or didn’t start. His best run came at the state tourney, with eight points against McKinley, 13 on Lahainaluna’s giants, 16 against Moanalua and 10 in the title-game win over Kahuku. With Punahou’s horde of seniors graduating, Clemens will be a major asset in the title defense next season. He is also one of the top offensive linemen in the country, ranking in the Top 5 at The Opening in San Francisco. If you love old-school, 1980s or ‘90s footwork on the post, never miss a chance to watch Clemens on the block.

> Coach says: “A solid post presence. Really came on in States. Did an outstanding job of staying in the moment, not letting missed shots get to him. Played excellent post defense and rebounded well. Really came on as a post scorer this year.” —Darren Matsuda, Punahou

Geremy Robinson, Moanalua, 6-0, Fr.
> Potentially, he could become one of the greatest playmaking scorers in Moanalua history, OIA history and beyond. On a team loaded with scorers, he averaged 12 points per game and shot 61 percent from the foul line. Both stats will probably increase significantly. He had his best scoring outputs against Kaimuki (22 points), Kailua (22), Kalaheo (20) and Punahou (18). It’s worth a comparison when it comes to the sons of former UH scoring guards. Robinson could have a prep career arc similar to that of recently graduated Kalaheo guard Captain Whitlock. Robinson had more production as a freshman than Whitlock did. With key scorers about to graduate at Moanalua, Robinson will get maximum opportunity to contribute on both ends next season.

Colin Ramos, Mid-Pacific, 5-7, Jr.
> The junior is often a blur on the hardwood, turning steals into breakaway layups. He averaged 13 points per game and shot 74 percent from the foul line. Ramos gained much more strength in the offseason, which led to 91 free-throw attempts. He broke out with 26 points against Kamehameha and 30 on Saint Louis during ILH play. Defenses pinpointed the speedster, but he still managed to score 14 against Punahou and 17 against ‘Iolani to close the season.

> Coach says: “Colin’s aggressiveness and mindset has improved tremendously since his freshman year, which has translated into his all around confidence in all aspects of the game as a junior. I’d say his overall feel for the game is getting better as well. He has game changing speed and his shot has improved – all while being asked to guard a multitude of different players this year. Our coaching staff is truly appreciative of his calm demeanor and ability to do whatever we ask him to do both on and off the court. Being that he lives in Ewa Beach, and manages the commute everyday, while taking care of his schoolwork and siblings speaks volumes of his humility and character.

“Moving forward I would love to see Colin take on more of a vocal role on the floor in order to become the complete package. He takes pride in being a great teammate and always tells me how much his teammates mean to him and the program. The next step for him is to make every single one of his teammates better.

“The most underrated part of his game is his toughness. Through the bumps, bruises and sprains he always toughed it out. Even when he was dead tired, we could count on him to overcome fatigue and give us his best effort.” —Ryan Hirata, Mid-Pacific

Marcus Damuni, Kahuku, 6-3, Jr.
> His value to the Red Raiders was immense in a secondary role to Smith. Damuni crashed the boards on both ends, played excellent defense and basically sacrificed his offense to give the team what it needed. What Kahuku will need next season might be Damuni as a primary scorer, and he has the athleticism and work ethic to make that happen. He scored 9 points per game and shot 53 percent at the foul line. He had a hot run of seven games in double-digit scoring during a nine-game span during OIA East play.

> Coach says: “Yes, Marcus was our work horse. He did everything that we needed and didn’t show in the stats. He complimented Tolu on the court. When all the attention was on Tolu, Marcus was the player that stepped up and hurt the competition. Marcus did it all year long. He was a double-double type player. He could improve in the following areas: mid-range/outside shooting and ball handling. He finishes very well around the basket. He actually improved a lot on his FT shooting.” —Brandyn Akana, Kahuku

Kordel Ng, St. Francis, 5-10, So.
> Voted No. 4 in the All-Defensive Team balloting, Ng’s defense, rebounding, steals and extreme speed in transition were huge assets as the Saints hung with the best D-I teams in the state and finished third in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. He finished with 6 points per game, 62 percent at the free-throw line. His best scoring outputs: 16 points against Kamehameha, 17 against Kaiser, 20 against Punahou and 15 in the D-II state final against Damien.

> Coach says: “Kordel’s motor is amazing. At times he is more fun to watch than Kameron. If he had paint on the bottom of his shoes the entire court would be painted. He is everywhere offensively and defensively.” —Ron Durant, St. Francis

Jaymin Khansmith, Kaiser, 5-10, Sr.
> The slashing, long-range shooting guard averaged 13 points per game and shot 67 percent from the foul line. He scored 20 against Hilo, 22 against Moanalua, 25 on Kaimuki, 29 against Farrington, 22 against Kailua, 18 against Kahuku, 20 on Campbell and 19 in a rematch with Kailua.

> Coach says: “His mindset and aggressiveness on the offensive end of the floor significantly improved over the course of his time at Kaiser. He became our No. 1 scorer and playmaker. Also he was a leader on and off the court and a role model for the younger players in our program.

“The most underrated part of his game is rebounding. He goes about his business quietly and next thing you know, he has 10 rebounds. He pounded the backboards hard on both ends of the court and got us a lot of second shot opportunities.

“He will need to keep working on speed, strength and agility. More importantly, those attributes on the defensive end. He has to commit to playing defense and be able to defend the guard positions. Getting bigger, faster, quicker and stronger will also benefit him offensively — dribbling the ball up court against tough defensive pressure.” —Branden Kawazoe, Kaiser

Justin Genovia, ‘Iolani, 5-9, Sr.
> The key senior returned from a football (collarbone) injury in time for the ILH regular season and averaged 15 points per game, hitting 73 percent from the free-throw line. He poured in 22 points against Saint Louis and 24 against Maryknoll. In his last three games, he scored 13 against Punahou, 15 on Mid-Pacific and 19 against Maryknoll.

Aukai Kama, Lahainaluna, 6-4, Sr.
> Aside from a 16-point effort against Moanalua, Kama was quiet offensively in nonconference play. He began to hit his stride in MIL play, and had a solid state tourney: 14 points against Punahou, 11 against Kalaheo and 13 against Kapolei. He averaged 8 points per game and shot 63 percent at the foul line while being a key part of the Lunas’ defensive wall near the rim.

> Coach says: “Aukai brought unlimited amounts of energy on both sides of the floor. When we needed a hustle play to get us going he would be the one who sparked us with block from behind, diving on the floor for a loose ball, or chasing down that long rebound.

“Since his freshman year, Aukai has improved the most on his work ethic. He realized last year how talented he was, but without working hard that talent would go to waste. He figured out that putting in countless of hours in the gym and weight room he could become a great basketball player. I know four years ago that Aukai didn’t have that drive. I’m very proud of him for finding that motivation.

“To be successful Aukai at the next level needs to be focused on what he loves. He loves this sport and with his talent level and how versatile of a player he is there is no doubt he could be a great college athlete. I know he is undecided on where he wants to go but I am sure he will make the right decision.” —Jason Justus, Lahainaluna

Makoto Kamata, Maryknoll, 6-3, Jr.
> Kamata’s value increased substantially after injuries to starting guards Jordyn Perez and Isiah Gelacio. Kamata proved he could run the point and still had big shots and defensive plays as a wing. He scored 18 points against Kamehameha and 21 against ‘Iolani. The Spartans have two scoring forces next season in Marcus Tobin and Kamata.

> Coach says: “Makoto is a knock-it-down 3-point shooter. All he needs is a small window to get it off. There was a stretch of two weeks where he simply didn’t miss. I’m really happy to have him come back next year.” —Kelly Grant, Maryknoll

*** All-Defensive Team ***
1. Tolu Smith, Kahuku
2. Cole Arceneaux, Punahou
3. Jordyn Perez, Maryknoll
4. Kordel Ng, St. Francis
> Coach says: “As far as being the best defensive player in the state I would say he is in the ILH. I have not seen all the OIA and outer island teams play.” —Ron Durant, St. Francis

5. Cole Mausolf, Punahou
> Coach says: “Cole was a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for us. Excellent defender, who really turned it on at the end of the season during ‘championship time’. Very smart defender who’s strength is underrated. Very unselfish.” —Darren Matsuda, Punahou

6. Kobe Young, Kamehameha
7. Zoar Nedd, Kapolei
8. Andrew Kearney, Kalaheo
9. Kaulana Makaula, Punahou
10. Lele Kawaiaea, Kamehameha
> Coach says: “He was our rim protector, long arms, great hops and timing made him a terrific shot blocker.” —Greg Tacon, Kamehameha

11. Payton Grant, Maryknoll
> Extremely instinctive and intelligent as a multi-position defender, Grant used his length to challenge top scorers. He also was a rebounding edge factor because of his height, and his ability to stretch defenses with his shooting range, plus solid ballhandling ability, made him a very effective chess piece.

> Coach says: Payton’s knowledge of defensive concepts is second to none. We used him to defend everyone’s best player. The best attribute Payton has is his ability to dissect our opponent’s plays during the course of the game and takes it away. We have won several games with him making key stops at the end of games. —Kelly Grant, Maryknoll

12. (tie) Jared Elwin, Roosevelt
> Coach says: “Can’t replace Jared Elwin. By far the toughest player I have ever coached. His leadership and defense will be missed. Kid took more charges than any kid I have ever coached and it didn’t matter who was coming at him, he was standing his ground. He didn’t score as much this year but he handled the ball most of the time and was able to break down defenses to set Micah up. I personally thought he was one of the best defenders in the state. Jared was the first Freshman to make my varsity and it was well deserved. He came in right away going right at Kevin Foster. I am truly going to miss Jared.” —Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt

12. (tie) Liam Fitzgerald, Leilehua
14. Cannen Chiu, Kalaheo
15. (tie) Max Pepe, Kalani
15. (tie) Isaiah Sugiura, Moanalua
17. (tie) Harry Wallace, Kalaheo
17. (tie) Marcus Tobin, Maryknoll
17. (tie) Caleb Casinas, Moanalua

Top honors went to Mid-Pacific junior guard Colin Ramos, followed by Everett Torres-Kahapea of Kailua, Cannen Chiu of Kalaheo, Jaymin Khansmith of Kaiser and Zayne Chong of Punahou.

Also receiving votes: Caleb Casinas (Moanalua), Zoar Nedd (Kapolei), Micah Visoria (Roosevelt), Kordel Ng (St. Francis), Christmas Togiai (Kamehameha), Cole Arceneaux (Punahou), Caleb Corpening (McKInley) and Marcus Tobin (Maryknoll).

Caleb Corpening, McKinley, 5-10, Sr.
> Coach says: “Caleb developed finishing at the basket this year. His athleticism and toughness allowed him to finish a high percentage lay up or get fouled and shoot free throws. He was never bothered with defenders hands in his face or contact. He also became more of a team player and developed into on of the leaders on our team. Caleb was also relentless on the offensive boards. He played above his 5-foot-10 height. I wish he was a junior. He hardly played last year. The team relied on him when Kyle wasn’t there. All his points all layups or free throws. No 3-pointers or jump shots.” —Duane Omori, McKinley

Below, I am starting a list of players who were very good this season, but didn’t crack the Fab 15, or honorable mention, or All-Defensive Team, or Most Improved. There are a lot more very good players today than there were a generation ago. It’s simple math. The game has grown, the population has grown and competition is at a peak with year-round leagues and athletes getting taller and bigger. Overall, there were a LOT of players who were often outstanding, but didn’t get consideration from the voting panel. This is a good place to start.


  1. Trump 2020 March 22, 2018 7:28 pm

    Wow…could this be the Advertiser’s attempt to create a smoke screen so as to hope PPL are put at easy or forget about the bias list of selected players? Do PPl who follow any high school sport in Hawaii find this article insulting to their intelligence? Let’s call this for what it is, it is a charity list. It’s like a player receiving the all coveted Participation Trophy at the end of their season. It’s a way of saying, we think you player are good enough, but because this other player played on my club team/high school basketball team, and no one is going to know, and because we can, we will create this list of top 15 players for all to see and be forced to believe. Shouldn’t defense be a criteria for selecting outstanding players in the top 15 and not a list to create after the fact? Shouldn’t improvement also be a criteria of being an outstanding player selected for the top 15 players? If it’s all about one’s opinion of things, then it should be said so and called out appropriately. Fabricating stats to justify one’s explanation is outrageous. One thing i do agree with in this article is that the Hawaii Basketball skill level bar for has been definitely raised over the past years. “Fake News” Do research.

  2. Vikingspride March 24, 2018 4:01 am

    It’s a list made based on votes for gods sake. It’s obviously an opinion. It’s basically there for people like you and me to agree or disagree with. We’re never going to find out who the “real best player” is as you’re going to debate eternally for the criteria alone, especially if you “research” it.

    It’s god damn obvious its an opinion when it’s decided on by human votes. and I guess you would want every god damn article in the paper saying in bold print “THIS IS AN OPINION”. That is your opinion but I think that’s a lot more insulting to our intelligence than otherwise.

  3. Trump 2020 March 24, 2018 12:40 pm

    Take it easy Vikingspride, I hope what i wrote didn’t hurt your Vikingspride and i disagree that it’s as obvious to most that it’s an “opinion list” like you mention. PPL out there believe that the information put on a publication of authority like the Advertiser is authentic and based on facts and not “FAKE NEWS”. Hence the debate. At any rate, if the true foundation of this article is exposed and debated in the comments, and what is written stings, then put god damn bug spray on so the bugs can’t bite. Maybe starting an article with the disclaimer “THIS IS AN OPINION”, as you suggested, a good bug spray to start with and then no one can argue that it is actual reporting and my argument would be done and what is written is easily accepted. However, doing something like that just wouldn’t be good reading and it would be like reading a tabloid. That’s what makes America great, the right to question, the right to debate, and the right to make our own decision. #let’smakereportinggreatagain

  4. Investigation?? March 26, 2018 5:05 pm

    How can Kahuku get away with ANOTHER basketball player from New Zealand going home after the basketball season?? No need ask anyone, these guys tell on themselves…..

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