Hawaii men’s basketball: Concerning recruiting

Eran Ganot has three scholarships still to award for 2019-20. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

Any takers out there?

About two months ago, I wrote about how this spring is a critical juncture for the direction of the Hawaii men’s basketball program as it pertains to recruiting.

Would the Rainbow Warriors receive a talent infusion commensurate with their peers in the Big West — the Irvines, Long Beaches, and Santa Barbaras — to break a spell of so-so regular-season performances and one-and-done outings in the conference tournament the last three years?

Well, in the weeks since, the news (or lack thereof) has not been especially promising, aside from an encouraging APR progress update from the 2017-18 academic year.

The spring signing period came to a close Thursday with UH netting just one scholarship player, junior college wing Junior Madut, and one invited walk-on, St. Francis guard Kameron Ng, to go with the signee from two years ago, Jessiya Villa, who returns from a church mission.

UH still has three scholarships to assign for the 2019-20 season. It’s disconcerting to see them burning a hole in a pocket of a stable program at this point of the year (even considering two were opened by early departures in Leland Green and Brandon Thomas). Star-Advertiser columnist Ferd Lewis touched on the subject this week.

Now, it’s not impossible to bring in difference-makers from this point of the offseason until the fall through non-binding financial aid/scholarship agreements. Bill Amis, a very late offseason pickup for Bob Nash, is a notable example from a dozen years ago. More recently, Sheriff Drammeh was picked up just before the 2015 fall semester by Eran Ganot.

But lately, there’s been an apparent inability for UH to close the deal with players it has been reportedly interested in.

Two players who were affiliated with Hawaii during their recruiting process this spring, Northwestern graduate transfer forward Aaron Falzon and Greek guard Dimitrios Klonaras, are off the board. Falzon declared for Quinnipiac early this month and Klonaras just committed for Cal after receiving a late offer from the Golden Bears.

Recently, word is UH is interested in Ranger College (Texas) guard Brayan Au, a native of Mexico who has three years of eligibility should he play Division I next season. He reportedly has an offer from Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

Having one spot open for flexibility, like accommodating a late-blooming diamond in the rough, is wise. Having three open spots heading into the summer … well, it’s not a good sign.


  1. Warrior Lifer May 18, 2019 5:43 pm

    Quiet is an understatement. Hope the coaches have some recruits up their sleeves. They need immediate help at the guard and wing positions, and they have 3 scholarships to work with. Come on coaches, let’s get it done!

  2. H-Man May 18, 2019 6:10 pm

    It’s not just men’s basketball that finds it difficulty in recruiting. Women’s soccer, Women’s basketball, Men’s tennis, Men’s golf, baseball and softball also have found it difficult to recruit, especially locally. It’s all part of being a mid-major in the middle of the Pacific. I thought the COA stipend was a contributing factor, but upon checking, UH offers a competitive stipend. Not top shelf, but certainly in the upper half.

  3. iGrokSpock May 18, 2019 6:58 pm

    The silence from the recruiting front is deafening indeed.

  4. Kevin May 18, 2019 6:59 pm

    What happened with all the recruiting done over the the year? They have nothing to show for it. Gib would stay back on road trips to visit recruits.

    Scary part is what other big west teams have done, especially Long Beach & Santa Barbara

  5. Mike j May 18, 2019 7:00 pm

    Fire eron ganot and matlen…before its too late!!!!

  6. Jonj May 18, 2019 11:47 pm

    Ganot was the safe boring rebound after gib! I called it from the beginning chow 2.

  7. seewhy May 19, 2019 12:43 am


  8. Raider Dogs May 19, 2019 12:59 am

    Ganot do Hawaii a solid and resign. Your teams are boring and we are just not talented as compared to our peers. At least there is a lot of room around my season tickets from those who don’t go.

  9. Old School Dave May 19, 2019 8:10 am

    Boosters need to come forward for UH to improve the situation there. How do you think that Nevada made so much progress in 4 seasons under Eric Musselman and were able to lure UCLA coach Steve Alford to Reno ($11million over 10 years contract) to replace him? Musselman was earning upwards of $800,000 a year at Reno, much of which came from boosters. UH’s in comparison are…………………………… (crickets). Local fans should not even consider UH joining and competing in the MWC in basketball (as some have harped) on their “Manapua Truck” budget.

  10. Matt May 19, 2019 9:14 am


    Firing Matlin is not going to help the situation, especially with what’s been going on so far in the 2019 season for this program. The Water Polo team makes it to the NCAA, and the Men’s Volleyball team makes it to the finals in the Walter Pyramid, and year 2 of the run-and-shoot for Rolo and company for the football team makes way. Rolo in fact has had 2 bowl game appearances in his 3 years. That attributes to the success we’re having so far.


    You know, we should be grateful that the NCAA allowed Hawaii to compete in the BWC tournament in the 2016-17 season after all that Gib Arnold drama. That should not have put Eran Ganot in the hot seat, especially when the guy who caused it should have been questioned about it immediately.


    I get what you’re saying, but who would want to be hired as our head coach for the basketball program? I’m not wanting Rick Pitino hired because of the trouble under the NCAA. What we need to find in a coach is; one that can prove to be a lead-by-example, one with good discipline, and one that hasn’t been involved with any NCAA investigations. I don’t want to see another Gib Arnold incident happen to this program again. But more importantly, can we improve on our recruiting track? It’s just so hard to watch.

  11. HawaiiMongoose May 19, 2019 10:55 am

    If Eran can just bring in two good new players — not projects, but good D1-caliber talents who are ready to contribute on arrival — most of this fan angst will evaporate. But so far what we see are whiffs. Get it done coach. Find a way.

  12. Hoosier May 19, 2019 2:11 pm

    Come on now. We can’t recruit??? Disappointed . Rule #1 is recruit! And we are in this shape? Unbelievable!!

  13. Aiea 7 May 19, 2019 4:42 pm

    yes, recruiting is the key to having a good basketball team, but getting good players to come here is more difficult since the program is not doing well and it is far away. Arnold was able to get some pretty good recruits but he did some things that were not good, that is why he was fired. don’t believe firing ganot is the answer, he is a decent and honest person and a fairly good coach. I am sure he is trying his best but not turning out. don’t believe others can do better without cheating. maybe we should complete is a lesser league, if winning is what is wanted.

  14. Na Alii Pride May 19, 2019 5:59 pm

    We’re losing recruiting battles to Quinnipiac, and are now competing for a recruit with Texas Rio-Grande? What, was the Alamo too tough?

  15. cappie the dog May 19, 2019 8:00 pm

    Maybe Falzon changed his mind because I can’t find his name on the 247Sports site.

  16. islandman May 19, 2019 9:08 pm

    Aaron Falzon @A3Falzon5
    May 2
    New Beginnings 🔵🐯 @QU_MBB
    Texas Rio Grande came in 4th in the WAC and the WAC was a better conference than the BIg West.

  17. Hoosier May 20, 2019 4:04 am

    Au 42% from 3. Decent background in high school and jc. Ranger #2 in jc nationals. Maybe more there than we know.

  18. Warrior Lifer May 20, 2019 10:07 am

    15. On twitter, the official Quinnipiac University MBB twitter page announced the signing of Falzon earlier today, and Falzon retweeted it. Looks like it’s confirmed, was probably just waiting for the all the paperwork to be finalized and what not.

  19. Na Alii Pride May 20, 2019 1:18 pm

    #16 so maybe we lose Au too then? Geez. Trying to stay positive. I like Ganot, I would have even called myself and apologist not too long ago. But getting harder for me to stay in his corner. Let’s hope he proves me wrong and pulls some rabbits out the proverbial hat.

    #17 thanks for that tidbit. Maybe there is more to this guy.

  20. The Truth Shall Set You Free May 20, 2019 2:41 pm

    Ganot having the personality and charisma of a wet dish rag can’t go over well with potential recruits. Wondering about Matlin’s stomach for this job. Keeps Trapasso on the job and even signs him to an extension despite the baseball program sliding into perpetual mediocrity and now the bball program going in the same direction. Matlin might be getting too close to the people he’s in charge of and isn’t objective. Hey Dave, you’re the caretaker of the athletic programs, Do your job.

  21. eshon May 21, 2019 4:30 pm

    Rick Pitino is looking for a job. It’s been 45 years since he started his coaching career at UH in 1974. It’s time we bring him back home.

  22. Joe mama May 21, 2019 7:27 pm

    I think we all can agree that the starting lineup will look like this:
    PG: Drew Buggs
    SG: Eddie Stansberry
    SF: Samuta Avea
    PF: Zigmars Raimo
    C: Dawson Carper

    This lineup concerns me because Zigmars doesn’t have the jump shot to play the PF & is not athletic enough to matchup with other stretch 4s in our league. Let’s hope Ganot can find one or we’l be in serious trouble.

    Why don’t grad transfers want to play at UH? What better way to finish your last year of bball than in the islands??

  23. Warrior Lifer May 23, 2019 5:13 pm

    Joe Mama

    I don’t think that Zigmars is the one I’m worried about in that lineup. I’m more worried about Stansberry. I think he’s perfect as a 6th man off the bench with his shooting, but not as a starter. We need another guard to takeover for him. Also I wonder if Owen Hulland is the real deal. We got a glimpse of him against UCLA where he looked impressive, and looked like the Jankovic type of player we were hoping from him. I could see him starting at the 5 over Carper, with Carper coming off the bench like last season. Hope the last 3 scholarships consists of 1 grad transfer, 1 JUCO, and 1 high school player. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, hope they don’t just end up wasting scholarships, but there’s lots of available players given the new transfer portal which has basically turned into a NCAA free agency.

  24. Seeing the light June 15, 2019 7:23 pm

    I’m gone… Just another long time season ticket holder that finally had enough of Ganot’s mediocracy. Poor recruting will always get you. Its paramount to the program’s success. It may be harder for Hawaii but its hard to believe some better caliber players wouldn’t want to come. I guess with Garnot’s personality? If he can’t do it then hire a good recruiter to overcome him or better yet replace him with someone who can! We don’t require the top tier but a couple 3 stars or more athleticplayers would be nice. There must be a few out there. We cannot be consistently out recruited by smaller schools! The team is boring and I don’t see any change for any near or long term improvement. The falling attendance is a good proof of that. Others are feeling the same. A good non conference schedule of better teams would help but being more interested in one’s record over the fans desires will not change this direction. Matlin needs to see the light for a better future for UH before we see a mass exodus. But maybe that’s the only way to envoke a change unless of course status quo is okay.

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