The Australian pipeline remains open for business.
Mate Colina, a 6-foot-11, 230-pound center from Melbourne, has verbally committed to Hawaii and plans to join the Rainbow Warriors at the semester break in the 2017-18 season. It sounds probable he will redshirt the spring with an eye on a full go at the start of 2018-19.
(For the record, Mate is pronounced “Mahh-TEH”.)
“I felt like I fit in,” Colina told the Star-Advertiser in a recent phone interview. “I’ll have a lot of opportunity, and (it’s) somewhere I felt comfortable.”
He must still graduate from high school in December, thus the mid-year timetable to begin his college career. UH should make him official in the coming days.
This is a potentially big get for the ‘Bows, if one that could pay dividends later rather than sooner. UH edged out a mainstay for Australian imports — Saint Mary’s — to secure Colina’s services.
“There were a few Division I schools,” Colina said. “But the only other school I took an official visit to was Saint Mary’s.”
That’s the most notable recruiting opponent Hawaii has beat out recently.
Colina has come a long way training at the Australian Centre of Excellence/Institute of Sport over a two-year period, according to those who’ve followed his progress. He played on the Aussies’ U17 national team at the FIBA World Championships last year, and is reportedly considerably better now.
The last six months have been something of a revelation for him as he’s come into his own as a post player with a degree of shooting ability.
“Things sort of came together,” Colina said. “Everything that I’ve been working on sort of felt like, became like, I could see me doing it. A lot of times I would work at it and saw nothing was sort of coming. But I stuck to it and eventually, it all comes together.”
Back to Saint Mary’s for a second, to underscore how remarkable this get could be for UH. There were seven Australians with Saint Mary’s in 2016-17 — or exactly half the Gaels’ roster. Colina knew several from shared time at the Centre of Excellence and greeted them on his visit to Moraga.
Hawaii was on him for “about three to six months,” he said, with his visit to Manoa coming in early July.
Colina views opportunities for Australian hoopers in a broad sense.
“I think that’s great,” he said. “Australian basketball’s really opened, especially the recent NBA boys doing well, opening the eyes to the rest of the world. It’s given more opportunities for people from Australia to go to college and further their games. I think it’s great if it continues to be like that. Saint Mary’s has shown a great pathway for that so far.”
Here’s some Colina as a 16-year-old, about two years ago. He’s grown a bit since then.
This completed UH’s scholarship distribution for the coming season. UH is looking at a bigs rotation of: Mike Thomas, 6-7; Jack Purchase, 6-8; Gibson Johnson, 6-8; Zigmars Raimo, 6-7; and Ido Flaisher, 6-10. In other words, last year’s group, plus Thomas. There was plenty of talk for a need of another big body to counter opponents’ beefier lineups. UH got that in Colina, but assuming he redshirts the spring, he won’t be able to help more than in practices until the following season.
You can read more about Colina in Sunday’s print edition.