Eran Ganot appeared on ESPN 1420-AM’s Call the Coach show with Bobby Curran on Tuesday. In that spirit, he’s two Q&As of my own Tuesday with new Hawaii signee Bryce Canda and Coach Ganot about Canda.
First up, newly minted UH signee Canda:
Q: How was your visit?
A: I just really liked (it). I had never been to Hawaii, and that was my first trip to Hawaii. And it was my first official visit. And so, I just really liked the island. The team took me to a lot of different restaurants and sights to see, views and stuff. But that why I chose to go to Hawaii in the end. I chose to go to Hawaii because they had a good coach in Eran Ganot. It was his first visit (received) there as the head coach. He has a good relationship with my trainer and my AAU coach Beno (Memory). They’re like brothers, they trust each other with what they do and Beno has sent him a lot of Portland, Oregon players in the past that are still playing overseas and in the D-League, and I just want to play under him and help him get me to the next level.
Q: What else did you get to do while you were out here?
A: Yeah, they took me on a campus tour around the campus center and the new facilities they have with the baseball, softball, all the outdoor sports that they had just built. And they took me around campus, I was able to see the different classrooms and upper and lower campus. I was able to see where students are able to go and get work done, the student center or whatever, getting tutoring. I was able to talk to a lady about the academic situation and what majors they had, and they had a major I was interested in taking. It was just a good all-around experience. I liked the gym and they said it was packed on men’s volleyball games, so I know it’ll be packed when the basketball team starts winning. So, I liked that. It was just good people, happy. They were very friendly and helpful. And I just liked that experience, being on campus.
Q: Have you been far from home much? Do you think that will be a challenge for you?
A: I don’t think that will be much of a problem, because I was gone for my first two years at a JUCO. It wasn’t really in much of a good place then in Riverton, Wyoming. I know Hawaii will treat me much better and it’s a nice vacation spot, so I know my parents and family will be able to come down whenever they want and I can be with them too. So I’ll be just fine.
Q: How was the Wyoming experience?
A: Yeah, it was just a new, but good experience for me. It wasn’t a big town at all, so it just helped me focus on books and basketball, and that’s really all I’m going to school for, is to have someone pay for my education and to do what I love, and that’s play basketball. So, being in Riverton wasn’t too bad. The team there was really close. We were like brothers, and that was a good way to get over the not having anything to do or being away from home. We kind of just stuck together and grinded it out. It just helped me with living on my own and having to provide for myself. I mean, I know my family would help me out if I needed like money or something. But it just helped me provide for myself and start doing stuff on my own, not relying on them as much. Yeah, that was pretty much it. We had a good team, we had a good season. We helped the school get a 20-win season, it hasn’t had one of those in a little while. Me being the leader of the team, and the best player on that team, I was able to get first-team all-region, and so that helped me get to the Division I level and get some more looks.
Q: Going from little recruitment out of high school to much more in recent weeks, what’s that been like?
A: Yeah, out of (Grant) High School, it wasn’t (much), it was just the University of Portland and Portland State. They weren’t even talking to me about recruitment and coming on a scholarship. They were just really just being friendly and saying hey, we know you’re a basketball player out of Portland, but you’ve got a lot of work to do, and stuff like that. So I just went to junior college after meeting up with Beno my senior year, playing for I-5 Elite, and just got the exposure I needed. They were able to get me the Central Wyoming JUCO look, and then I went there. But after I went there for my two years, and started to get all these calls and texts about coaches offering me scholarships, it was just like, at the beginning it was overwhelming. I didn’t really know what to do. But I just felt good and was like, ‘Finally, people are starting to notice me and notice me for my abilities and talent’ and what I could do. It was a good feeling that people were finally recognizing that.
Q: The signing period has been going for a few weeks now. Did you feel you had the luxury of taking your time? How did that play out?
A: I told myself and I told my family that, I always knew, even in the season at my JUCO, it was barely midseason and I already knew that, look, I’m going to sign late, I don’t care who offers me and who puts what on the table. I just want to sign late and explore every single opportunity and chance I get, ’cause if something sounds good in the beginning, it might not be there at the end. And they just want to get me there to say they just got a good point guard but drop me off on the bench or whatnot, so they can say all this good stuff in the beginning and then when it comes down the road something else might happen. So, I just wanted to keep all my options open and keep exploring, and not turn down anything or accept anything. And just stay open to anything. And then, as it turned out, like I had said, schools that had offered me in the beginning, went a different way before I could even say yes or say no. They took it upon themselves to turn me down or say I’m taking too long so they’re going to go talk to this kid or whatever. And I was like, that’s fine, me and Beno were talking at it since Day 1. He was like, let them do what they do, and when the right opportunity comes you’ll know what it is. Sure enough, one of the last offers or coaches I talked to was Coach Eran at the University of Hawaii. And I liked it, and trusted Beno and trusted him in what was on the table and what they wanted me to do. And I took it.
Q: How long ago did Hawaii come into the picture?
A: This season, Coach Eran had started talking to me a little bit. Like, just to check here and there on gameday … when he was an assistant coach at Saint Mary’s. But he was telling me and Beno, ‘I really like this kid but you know, Saint Mary’s already has this and that. He wouldn’t really be an impact player here so just hold on. I know I’m going to get a job sooner or later at a different college that has a head coach (opening).’ Like a week or two later, he gets the coaching job at the University of Hawaii. And that’s when he really started recruiting me harder. The season had been long over, so it was probably about a month ago that he really came on strong and was recruiting me.
Q: How do you describe your game? What comes naturally and what you’ve had to work at to improve?
A: As a player right now, there’s always room for improvement. But I’ll say that I’m a really skilled passer and that’s what a lot of coaches like about me, that I can make plays that other people can’t. Or I see stuff before it’ll happen and I know how to get you the ball, find people and make harder plays than normal without turning the ball over. So I’m a well-rounded passer, I’m a big guard at 6-4 and I like to rebound. So I’m in there rebounding pretty well for my size as a guard. And I can shoot. My shooting has gotten better over the years. When I came out of high school, I couldn’t shoot at all. But two years at my junior college, the percentage just kept going up. So, I’m a pretty good … not pretty good. I’m a good shooter from outside. And if you try to take away my shot, I’m quick enough and explosive enough to go around you. One thing I’ll say I need to work on for sure is my defense all-around, off the ball and on the ball. Having more energy and being more vocal, helping my teammates. And then leading the team and running the show.
Q: Did Eran talk to you much about your role this coming year, being that Hawaii has some experienced guards back?
A: It’s just like, we’re all freshmen and he’s the coach, because this is his first year at the University of Hawaii. And all the players there, whether they’re juniors or seniors or returners or whatever, they haven’t played under him and neither have I, so we all gotta go in with the mind-set of just work and play somebody out and play harder than somebody so we all earn our minutes. ‘Cause nothing is promised and that’s what he told me. He said, I just gotta work for it. He’s not bringing me in to ride the bench but he’s not promising me anything. He wants me to come in and be an impact player right off the jump. Run the show, run the team, be vocal and be a leader on the team. And with that being said, I just know I have to come in with the mind-set to work, be hungry and want it every day.
Q: Did you play combo guard in junior college, or were you always the point?
A: The coach always wanted me to have the ball in my hands, ’cause I was always, like I said, just a better passer and under control with the ball. It’s been my position ever since I was little, so I had more experience playing it. But we had another backup point guard, and our 2-guard, we’d be interchangeable. He’d go to the 1, like when they’d try to pressure me and he’d bring it up. Or, I’d go get it, bring it up and hand it off to him. Stuff like that. So, we were both 1 and 2s and our junior college.
Q: Anything else you want to add about your D-I commitment after all this time?
A: I was going to have a couple more visits set up for after I went to Hawaii, just in case things didn’t go well. But when I got there, I just liked the atmosphere, liked the coaches, they were really friendly. The put me through a workout, all the basketball players had finals or something at home, so the just put me through a workout. But I got off to a shaky workout and missed some shots. They never thought bad about me and said, ‘Oh, we brought in the wrong kid or whatever.’ They were like, ‘No, I know what he’s capable of. He’s just nervous or anxious.’ They kept motivating me and wanting me to do good. They know what I’m capable of. And then, I just liked the players. They were really friendly, I felt like I just fit right in, like we had all been there since freshman year. It was just an automatic connection with them and Coach. So that’s just why I chose it. … Stef Jankovic was my host here, he was taking me out to dinner and stuff and showing me around. And I was with Zane (Johnson) and Coach (Adam) Jacobsen.
Q: Your other primary choices you’d narrowed down to were Creighton and Central Arkansas? Those were the ones you would have visited if you hadn’t committed?
A: Yes, that’s right.
Q: Are you coming out for summer school?
A: Yessir, I’ll be coming out July 6.
Eran Ganot on Canda
Q: You’ve talked about hard work in your philosophy getting to this point and the players you seek. Is that the case with this one?
A: Yeah, he’s somewhat of a classic late bloomer too. He was probably only 6-1 out of high school, (now) he’s big for his position. 6-4, 195. He’s a great worker, and I think you can tell that being around him. But you can tell that if you’ve seen his development over the years. He wants to be a player, he’s about the right stuff. And I’m excited about where he’s at and where he’s headed.
Remark: He should be the same size or bigger than anyone he sees at his position in the Big West.
A: And especially, ideally the way we played at Saint Mary’s some, where we like to play multiple point guards together. Or guys who can play several positions. I think it’s tough to guard. You certainly can do that when a guy has the size that he has. We’ve had, a guy who played for us at Saint Mary’s, Stephen Holt, a guy with similar dimensions. We could play him with (Matthew) Dellavedova or (Mickey) McConnell. So, it’s a luxury that he can play several positions, that he can defend several positions. And obviously he’s a good rebounder.
Q: How do you see him fitting in with the rotation guards who are coming back?
A: I think they’ll play well together, is my initial thought on that. I think it’ll be interesting to see how our team develops over the course of the year. Obviously, he’s going to have a little bit of a transition period, of being new to this level and new to this program. But, some of those (returning) guys will go through that as well, because we’re going to put in a new system to some extent. Like I said, it’ll be interesting to see how he develops. I feel good about his development because of who we have.
Q: How does it feel to have that first recruit signed and in the books and being able to talk about it?
A: Well, I love talking about all our guys. When you’re allowed to, it’s a great opportunity and we’re blessed in the position we are, where we can help these guys. Whenever we have the opportunity to talk about guys in our program, or our program, I think it’s a good thing. Obviously we couldn’t with him until he signed the letter. But yeah, we have work to do. It’s one of those things, you enjoy it, and I want him and his family to enjoy it. And you’ve got to enjoy it quick, because we’ve got to get back to work.
Q: You’ve talked about wanting to bring in high character guys, high academic guys. Does he fit the bill?
A: Absolutely. He’s very dialed in and organized, and on top of things. I think that bodes well for him moving forward and that’s probably why he’s been as successful as he’s been.
On the Call the Coach Show, Ganot said he thinks he might have the next member of his coaching staff in place by the end of the week. Stay tuned for that one.
Also, Zane Johnson does not yet have a title on staff, besides “The Guy.”