Jalen Tanuvasa considering move, Tama Fonoti now at Sierra Canyon

Jalen Tanuvasa (13) may not be back at Maryknoll for her junior season. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

For years, island football players have tested the market.

Though the internet and other modern technology have narrowed the gap between mainland college recruiters and Hawaii high school athletes, there are still many families willing to make sacrifices. A growing number have been willing to move to the continent, transferring to programs that are in the midst of the Pac-12 and other conferences.

But that was largely relegated to football. Now the trend has picked up in girls basketball.

Maryknoll’s standout guard, Jalen Tanuvasa, is currently practicing with the Las Vegas Storm club team in the summer. The Storm begins a busy month of tournament play in July.

There is a chance she may move for her junior season. Tanuvasa is enrolled at Faith Lutheran in Las Vegas and did not re-enroll at Maryknoll. Much of it will depend on business opportunities for her father, Shane. He is hoping to expand his brother’s solar business from Hawaii to the mainland. That doesn’t guarantee that Jalen will stay in Las Vegas. She could return home, but that is not a plan at this point.

“When the school year ended, she went to Jeff Judkins Elite Camp,” Shane Tanuvasa said of the event hosted by the Brigham Young women’s basketball coach. “She got to speak with him and other coaches. From her class, they’re already looking at two or three other guards from Utah. It’s easier for them to watch the players in their back yard.”

Tanuvasa’s older sons are in college. Jordan is at BYU and Jett, who recently graduated from St. Francis, is heading to Oregon. Dad has been evaluating business numbers and making contacts on the mainland. He has hardly been in Hawaii since February.

“I figured, if I’m going to be up there, I might as well find an opportunity for her,” he said.

The family spoke with Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado in April.

“It was something we were looking into back then. I’m not going to say (moving) is 100 percent. Anything could happen,” Tanuvasa said. “I haven’t thought about her staying. I would say, if she stayed in Hawaii, I would want her to go back to Maryknoll. I don’t know what that process would be.”

Tanuvasa was voted No. 5 in the Star-Advertiser All-State Fab 15. With Tanuvasa averaging close to 20 points per game as a sophomore, Maryknoll was 20-5 overall, a regular among the top four teams in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. The Lady Spartans were 6-5 against ranked opponents and 14-0 against the rest of the field.

“We’ve got so much going on this summer,” Shane Tanuvasa said. “That’s what’s on our plate right now, a lot of movement. Financially, too, having two boys in college. That’s a big factor. The University of Oregon is not cheap.”

If Jalen Tanuvasa stays in Hawaii and doesn’t have a way back to Maryknoll, other options might include Kalani. Another former Maryknoll student-athlete, Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole, transferred to Kalani as a senior. She is now at Utah State.

“I know there’s a lot of (rumors) going around. It’s hard for Jalen. I tell her to keep focused on training. I know it’s taking a toll on her,” her father said.

Meanwhile, Punahou center Tamali‘i Fonoti, a 6-4 junior, has transferred to Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.). Fonoti did not have any posts on her first Twitter handle. However, she has a new handle under Tamali‘i Fonoti and lists herself at “Sierra Canyon ’21 // Hawaii‘i 2 Cali…”

The school is better known for recent graduates Scottie Pippen Jr. and KJ Martin, sons of Scottie Pippen Sr. and Kenyon Martin, respectively. LeBron James’ son, LeBron Jr. (“Bronny”), and Dwayne Wade’s son, Zaire, are also expected to attend the school.

The girls program hasn’t enjoyed the same celebrity limelight, but has been highly successful under coach Alicia Komaki. The girls program was 33-1 last season en route to the CIF championship and a No. 12 national ranking in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25. Komaki was named CIF coach of the year.

Under Punahou’s first-year girls basketball coach, Gary Pacarro, Fonoti saw her role reduced. The fullcourt-pressing, fast-tempo style wasn’t a good fit for Fonoti, who played roughly half of each game.

Supporters of Sierra Canyon had shown interest in Fonoti for a few years.

“I’m disappointed because we’d love to have her stay,” Punahou athletic director Kale Ane said. “She’s doing fine in school, doing fine academically. She’s a dual sport athlete in volleyball and basketball. She’s worked hard. She had to come all the way in from (Hauula).”

Ane played football at Michigan State, then the in the NFL after graduating from Punahou.

“I understand why she went. She felt she had an opportunity to get more exposure on the national scene. The coaches there might have seen her when she went on basketball trips. I hope she does well, but we’re disappointed she left,” he said. “I think she mentioned it, she was considering it. They’re were thinking about it as a family. I know Gary is disappointed. He likes a chance to work with talented players like that.”

Ane said the Buffanblu wish her well.

“She’s a big, physical and future dominating player,” he said. “The future’s bright for her regardless of where she goes to school.”


  1. ??? June 27, 2019 8:38 am

    Now Kale Ane knows how Kahuku feels when he takes their kids from Laie, Hauula & Kahuku!

  2. B-ball fan June 27, 2019 10:46 am

    I believe the Mililani girl Dahlis Sablay is moving to Vegas too. Island hoopsters on the move.

  3. men76lity_south June 27, 2019 12:09 pm

    @ b-ball fan..Yes, it’s true she is on the move to vegas. she is playing ball with vegas storm already. she been playing with all summer. she will be attending liberty. another local girl leaving to get better looks @ the next level.

  4. HLI June 27, 2019 3:54 pm

    Maybe you could give those players a better reason to stay?? Your school and program wasnt even worth going back to, why is that?

    Wait for it. Wait for it.

  5. Loca1boiAnonymous June 27, 2019 4:12 pm

    Get plenty girls from Hawai’i going onto play D1/D2 having played all four years of prep basketball in Hawai’i. This has not been an issue for lack of exposure if the girls are good enough, scouts offer. The boys, on the other hand, now that is a different story. Most times they need to go for the exposure and increase in competition level otherwise they end up as walk ons at a local university at best.

  6. Hala Pohaku June 27, 2019 9:38 pm

    @men76lity_south, Dahlis is moving to LV after she travels with 808 to Oregon and Chicago. She will attend Liberty HS. She played in a tourney in LV with Liberty back in April. She does not play with the Las Vegas Storm. Tanuvasa will be playing with the Las Vegas Storm.

    @Loca1boiAnonymous, I do not think there plenty local girls playing D1 and D2. If the top of my head there is Kamalu, Wu, and Obrey playing D1. I don’t know of anyone playing D2. There are a few going D3.

    There is not a lot. Attending a mainland school allows you to play better competition, the colleges in the area can watch the players, and it’s probably cheaper to live.

  7. Sup_Palala June 28, 2019 2:47 pm

    @Hala Pohaku

    Bruh.. your list only includes 3 girls that graduated this year. Get like 3 sisters from Konawaena playing at Washington State, plenny girls playing Big West including one or two at UH. You’re crazy to not realize how many girls go onto play collegiate ball from Hawai’i. Go look up Chaminade, HPU, and UH-Hilo’s rosters get girls playing on those teams as well. Seems like you didn’t even look or are oblivious to the amount of girls who have gone to play college over the past 2 decades from these islands.

    Therefore, I disagree with your statement that the girls need to go out of state to get offers. Too many examples here from home.

  8. Hala Pohaku June 29, 2019 2:02 pm

    Aloha, Sup_Palala.

    US World News reports that only 3% of graduating seniors in the US play D1-D3 basketball. That is very low in my opinion.

    I just listed 3 kids I knew that were moving on to D1 from the 2019 graduating class. Maybe there is 1-2 more, but probably not.

    There were over 200 seniors that graduated last year in Hawaii who played bball. The number that moves on to D1-D3 is quite low. This is off the top of my head. I am quite aware of who goes where. But please look. None of the schools listed below are known for their academics.

    And, other then D1, these girls are getting minimal money. D3 does not give athletic money. Most D2 schools cannot afford to give full athletic scholarships.

    So if the goal is just to play, then some kids get to continue. But none of them are going to tier 1 or tier 2 universities.

    Look at the clubs on the mainland in california. Many of the kids are getting into Cal, UCLA, USC, etc. Big difference. To think Hawaii has the same opportunities for exposure that California, Washington, and Las Vegas has just makes me shake my head.

    Washington State – 3 Molinas
    San Jose State – Obrey and lahainaluna girl
    Utah State – Kamakawiwiole

    UH Hilo – Kawaha, Talbit
    Chaminade – Nueku, Takata, Braun
    HPU – Rivera

    Alaska – Fernandez, Roy
    Concordia – Princey
    Central Washington – Pana, Maeda

  9. Hala Pohaku June 29, 2019 2:03 pm

    UCSB – Vierra
    Cal Lutheran – Wu

    I am sure there is more.

  10. Burgla June 29, 2019 3:27 pm

    B.s. Punahou! If you really wanted Fonoti your brainless or heartless coach; would have found a way to make her a force on the court instead of not correctly using her skill set. She will blossom under her new coaches and good for her and her family for recognizing that Punahou wasn’t for her/them. Hawaii coaches seem to just copy each other and Athletic directors just roll with whatever is in place which is why many leave and others get frustrated. Jalen Tanuvasa should stay far away from Kalani; it will lead to frustration.

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