Not long ago, Na Menehune of Moanalua were perhaps the fastest of fast-breaking teams in OIA boys basketball.
They still run the break well at Moanalua, but back then, seniors Dexter Williams Jr. and freshman Marcus Keene were big contributors to the team. Under then-head coach Greg Tacon, Moanalua won OIA championships in 2010 and ’11. Fast-forward to 2016, and the former Menehune standouts reunited on Wednesday night.
Williams, a 6-foot-4 guard, went on to play at Montana Western and was named Frontier Conference MVP after the 2014-15 season, averaging 15.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He shot 54 percent from the field. He repeated as a first-team All-Conference selection as a senior last season, and will graduate in May.
This week, Williams made a trip to the campus of Montana State to see Keene, now with Central Michigan. Keene, who leads the NCAA in scoring, dropped 44 points against Montana State in a 106-103 victory on Wednesday. The 5-9 junior added nine rebounds, six assists and had just three turnovers in 38 minutes. It was his first game since Dec. 10, when he had 25 points against Illinois. He has increased his scoring average to 31.9 points per game.
Williams was a leader for Tacon at Moanalua, basketball lifers whose lives entwined during those peak years for a storied program. His insights about life and the future then were beyond his years. Today, he sees a bright future for himself, and more so for Keene. He kindly replied to a Q&A with Hawaii Prep World this morning.
HPW: Dexter, what was the temperature at Montana Western?
DW: It was 12 degrees before I left a couple of days ago. (The low) was -18 (at Montana State). Too cold for me.
HPW: You’ve overcome all kinds of tough odds to become a great player at the next level. Way back, did you imagine both you and Marcus would be playing college basketball.
DW: I always knew Marcus and I would play college basketball ever since we met. We did imagine playing together though.
HPW: What kind of sacrifices have you made not only to play college ball, but stick it out when a lot of guys would give it up?
DW: I have sacrificed quality time with my family and spent many holidays away from them. Having a good group of friends and family pushed me to stick it out. My mom made me strive for success and never let me settle for less.
HPW: What would you say to a a kid who is 8 or 10 or 12, who loves the game and loves to get better, but is off the radar somewhat being in Hawaii?
DW: I would tell them to perfect their craft, spend countless hours in the gym, and most importantly never give up on themselves even when people doubt them. There are going to be times they are “off the radar” but don’t let it discourage them. There are a lot of hidden opportunities out there and someone will notice them if they believe in themselves.
HPW: What was it like going to see Marcus play? What kind of memories popped into your mind?
DW: It had me at a loss for words. I couldn’t believe that I was watching him play in person. We talk everyday but I haven’t seen him in six years. It reminded me of the times we would play at the park and practices at Moanalua. It was amazing to see how far he has come.
HPW: What kind of moves and skills do you see in him now — that he didn’t have as a high school freshman?
DW: Marcus has gotten quicker and stronger since his freshman year in high school. His IQ even grew stronger which he had from the beginning. His jump shot has gotten so much better. He makes great reads for his teammates while he continues to score. He has turned into the complete package, he had improved at every aspect of his game since his freshman year in high school.
HPW: What is the future for you, and what do you think the future is for Marcus?
DW: As far as my future, I plan on graduating in May and then becoming a pro overseas. As far as Marcus’ future, I think the sky is the limit for him. I think if the opportunity presents itself we will see him in the NBA.
HPW: Thank you, Dexter. Any additional thoughts or shoutouts?
DW: I’m thankful for the continuous support I get from everyone in Hawaii.