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.”