Trevor LaCount thought his college basketball career was done. Completely over.
The SoCal native had wrapped up two years at Ventura (Calif.) College, having averaged a modest 7.5 points and 5.1 rebounds as a sophomore. LaCount was looking ahead to the completion of his undergraduate studies, ideally at a warm place that fit his persona. Surfing, diving, and the like.
So he headed out to Hawaii this summer with the goal of obtaining a communications degree.
He still had the pangs to get some run in, though. His coach at Ventura, Joey Ramirez, knew (now former) UH assistant Chris Acker. Ramirez put in a good word and LaCount started getting in some of UH’s open gyms.
“I got to know the guys. Understand the pace and how fast this level of basketball is,” LaCount said this past weekend. “They welcomed me with open arms, definitely.”
UH, at 14 players going into the season, was in need of another player with some length, mostly for practices. Committed Australian big man Mate Colina isn’t scheduled to arrive until the semester break. Conveniently, the 6-7, 180-pound forward LaCount had done well enough in the open gyms to earn a tryout look in the days leading up to the first full practice Sept. 29.
“(The UH coaches) gave me a call a couple days before practice started, and said ‘are you ready to go?’ ” recalled LaCount. “I said, ‘yessir.’ Yeah, I’m definitely blessed to have this opportunity. Didn’t come here expecting to play basketball. I thought my two years were done at my junior college. Definitely lucky to have the opportunity. I’m so happy to be here.”
So there was LaCount on the first day of full practice in the Stan Sheriff Center, the 15th man, causing local media to point him out and ask, “who?”
The answer eventually came back: Trevor LaCount. Trevor LaCount? Oh.
He’s the third non-scholarship player on the roster, along with fourth-year juniors Brocke Stepteau and Zach Buscher.
“Being a walk-on role, pretty much you gotta be there for the guys,” he said. “You gotta be ready no matter what the job is. Scout team, just playing defense on the guys. But they don’t expect any less of me than they do the guys. Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work. I’m really enjoying it so far.”
He’s also the guy with the steepest learning curve, practice/scout team player or not. He didn’t participate in the exhaustive series of team workouts that comprised much of the summer for the rest of the roster.
“It’s been a lot, a lot of learning,” LaCount said. “Like I said, I didn’t know I was going to be a part of the program until about a week ago. And kind of coaches told me to observe the first week, because they have a good amount of plays and materials that they’ve already known and gone over. So I’m just trying to study up as much as I can, so I’ll be ready to go. That’s kind of the plan. But everyone’s doing a great job of helping me. All the coaches, all the players. Everyone’s been great to be around.”
Senior forward Gibson Johnson was back in action in Monday’s practice in the Sheriff Center, having shaken off a minor ankle ailment, while junior guard Sheriff Drammeh was also back after missing a few days. That brought the Rainbow Warriors back up to full strength a little more than a week into full practices.