Tolu and Hugh miss each other by a year

'Iolani's Cole Hogland, pictured in a game against Punahou last season, scored 12 points in the Raiders' 40-35 victory over Kahuku. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii basketball bigs are rare. Bigs with immense talent are even more scarce.

That’s why the state’s fans just missed a large-scale collision. One year off to be exact.

Tolu Smith, who stands 6 feet 10, is here and ready to lead the Kahuku Red Raiders this season as they defend their Division I state title. But Hugh Hogland, ‘Iolani’s 6-9 man in the middle for four seasons, is now playing in college — at D-I Portland.

“It would have been a war,” Raiders coach Dean Shimamoto said on Saturday after ‘Iolani’s 45-40 victory over Kahuku in the OIA-ILH Challenge at the Moanalua gym. “Those are both Division I level talents, bigs — and it doesn’t happen too often in Hawaii. That would have been fun to see.”

Hogland was a defensive master. Only astute observers fully noticed just how much acrage he was covering under the basket. And Hogland’s offense flourished as his high school career went on.

Smith, who has committed to Western Kentucky, is an agile attacker who also has a fine midrange shot and is proud about his defense.

“It would have been great to see (Hugh vs. Tolu) because Hugh was the last legit center,” Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana said. “I don’t remember us having one. It’s been a lot of years. Tolu is a legit big and in the state of Hawaii, you don’t see enough of them. It’s a treat. ‘Iolani kind of rolled with him all those years, and now they’ve gotta change.”

The hoped-for matchup of Smith against Hugh’s brother Cole Hogland, who is 6-foot-4, did not materialize Saturday in the preseason tournament. Smith is out with a sprained wrist he suffered when he fell in a recent win over Nanakuli, but he is expected back soon. Smith is also in a walking boot, but the sprain is minor, according to his dad, Galen Smith.

Hogland, who signed to play volleyball for the University of Hawaii, finished with 12 points in the win.

Kahuku’s Ruanui Winitana, a transfer from New Zealand, scored 13 points in the loss, including a 3 from the top of the key at the final buzzer.

“He’s from Laie,” coach Akana said. “He left when he was young and lived in New Zealand and returned back for his senior year and has family here. He’s a true point guard, very experienced and is going to be a leader of the team. He’s still getting used to the system and I think he’ll get better and better.”

Akana and his assistants were not pleased with some of the team’s defensive board work Saturday.

“Little things like boxing out,” he said. “‘Iolani scored close to 20 points on putbacks of offensive rebounds. We need to work on that and ‘Iolani does a great job of that. When you give up those second-chance shots — and they were all layups — it hurts us. Give them one shot, box out, rebound. But they got multiple shots on offensive rebounds.”

The Raiders were without their starting guards, Justin Genovia, who is recovering from a collarbone injury suffered during football season, and Noah Bumanglag, who is expected to return from a concussion this week.

“It’s still preaseason and we’re working on combinations, working on executing properly, trying to build some good habits,” Shimamoto said. “I think we’re coming along, This is our second week of real games. Our defense (against Kahuku) was pretty good. Even when our offense isn’t there, the defense keeps us in games.”

The Raiders lost a 51-48 decision to Kahuku in the state semifinals a year ago, thereby missing a chance to defend their 2016 state championship in the final. Kahuku went on to beat Punahou in last year’s final, 70-55.

Is Shimamoto disappointed that he and his team didn’t get to see Smith up close and in uniform against his Raiders?

“I have not seen him play yet, but I’ve only heard good things,” he said. “On one hand, I would have liked for our kids to have played against him just to see where we are at against a guy of that caliber. On the other hand, it was a great game for us.”


  1. No Recruiting December 10, 2017 9:17 pm

    Man everyone is from Laie. It’s like everyone in the world is somehow related to someone is Kahuku.

    Jimmy was born in Laie and has family there. He moved to Nigeria but wanted to return back to Kahuku for his senior year.

    Frankie was born in Honolulu. But his cousin’s uncle’s aunty’s former mailman is his second uncle on his mom’s side to that makes him family.

    Billy is from Israel, but he traveled to Laie way back in 2007. Since Billy and his family went to Papa Ole’s 5 days in a row, they hanai-ed him, so that make his family. So Billy is going to finish his senior year at Kahuku.

    Joey lives in Germany. But he just read the Sport Illustrated article about Kahuku, so that makes him family. He will finish his senior year next year at Kahuku.


  2. Loca1boi December 11, 2017 6:50 am

    Fotu vs Hogland was the better matchup if you ask me and from what I remember of last year’s semi final matchup, during Fotu’s limited minutes due to foul trouble, Fotu scored at will. That will be interesting as both Fotu will be at Saint Mary’s next year so both will be in the WCC.

  3. Killing me December 11, 2017 8:38 am

    Please watch Damien on youtube give Tolu Smith all he can handle using their 6’1″ centers. Come on man, just because they are the same height doesn’t mean the match up would be good. Watch Hugh’s games on youtube, then Tolu’s….please….

    Secondly, No Recruiting’s comments are funny as hell…..and so true at the same time. But, please don’t forget that in the article of the Mililani transfer request, that particular player said in the paper, he was after a basketball scholarship, so going to Kapolei would be better. Kailua has a new transfer, McKinley has a transfer, the list goes on and on….

    My question is, why cheat and lose….if you going cheat, at least win…..

  4. SSISWHATILIKE December 11, 2017 10:47 am

    Last year’s bball season had PLENTY out-of-state players on rosters. This year, just as much if not more.

  5. Red Raider Alumni December 11, 2017 1:01 pm

    That whole community is special…Alot of Families who moved away still have families there..Its the Polynesian Culture…Kahuku has a special place in the hearts of those who lived there..There really is no place like that in the State…Many of kids want to come home and play with their cousins and Be part of their families tradition…I mean where is do you see during family gatherings, families hold hands and sing the Alma mater…This happens worldwide..True Story…Familes with 8 to 10 children isn’t uncommon in the Polynesian Culture, So,take that back 5 generations..Do the math…The Red Raider Nation is huge…

  6. SSISWHATILIKE December 11, 2017 2:27 pm

    @Red Raider Alumni

    From the years of watching prep sports I have to agree with an outsider’s perspective. I am not an alumnus of Kahuku but I can honestly say I can understand why these kids who have ties eventually decide to come back and play for the Red Raiders. You can win a league championship or state championship for that matter at any school in the state or country, but when Kahuku wins, it’s packed crowds, convoys, parades, fireworks, chants, the haka – it is unreal to watch. Winning at any other school doesn’t compare to doing it at Kahuku High School.

  7. Mahatma Gandhi December 11, 2017 5:09 pm

    No recruiting? Iolani has decided to make its name in basketball and has gone all-out in recruiting basketball players to the school.
    St Lulu wants to make its name in football.

  8. PublicSchoolAllTheWay December 11, 2017 5:13 pm

    No Recruiting comments are HILARIOUS and true. I’m not saying other schools aren’t doing the same things, ‘cus we all know CHOKE schools recruit, but it’s still funny. It would’ve been cool to see two bigs go out at it. Good luck to all the teams this season!

  9. MissTita December 12, 2017 4:44 am

    Kahuku really has No money or big promises of housing tuition..its really up to the kid to make the most of his opportunities..LOL, seriously these recruiting know it alls crack me up. But I can Tell you the truth…private Schools tried to recruit my nephew…trying to Tell my sister an attractive package. The only package deal that comes with Kahuku is ALOHA, OHANA, KAIAULU, and AKUA. Thats the TRUTH! #RR4L

  10. LOL December 12, 2017 9:06 am

    Iolani doesn’t Recruit HAHAHAHA. You can’t recruit at will at a school like Iolani. The rigor of the school keeps out almost 90% of athletes. It’s not like punahou or Saint Louis where they just let any ol kid in. Iolani had academic standards.

  11. JetWavy December 13, 2017 12:24 am


    We’re talking about a school who has a total of 10 state championships going back to the mid-90s (5 in a row from ’02-’06 and have gone to the state finals 3 of the last 4 years). They do zero recruiting, though? Must be that Iolani’s coaching staff just goes around handing out fliers to the mathematics, chess, and robotics clubs as well as the speech and debate teams at the school asking for kids to come try out for the basketball team and they just play with whoever shows up. Sounds about right.

  12. ilh December 14, 2017 2:15 pm

    Re-Rooted not Recruited.

    Gotta love that New Zealand pipeline.

    Kid got some nifty handles.

    Next year, maybe they can Re-Root kids from wherever that Porzingis guy comes from.

  13. Ol' Otis December 14, 2017 7:49 pm


    “Next year, maybe they can re-root kids from wherever that Porzingis guy comes from” You mean Latvia? In the past two bball season in Hawaii I know of 2 Europeans that played/is playing (Serbia and Lithuania by way of Canada). Neither of them were on Kahuku. Nobody sayin nothing about those schools/communities.

  14. Ken Low December 14, 2017 8:47 pm

    LOL…You are spot on, bullseye with your comment…

  15. ilh December 15, 2017 11:06 am

    @ o’o

    Did those players leave the state 2 days after they won the Championship too??

    If yes, someone should write about them too.

  16. Ol' Otis December 15, 2017 4:03 pm


    No, because they weren’t good enough to lead their team to a championship.

  17. ilh December 20, 2017 12:24 pm

    @ o’o

    Hence, why its newsworthy and somewhat controversial.

    If they dont win the championship this year and the NZ player leaves immediately after the season is completed, I doubt we will hear about it.

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