Hawaii men’s basketball: Drew Buggs salutes late mother after breaking UH assist record

Hawaii point guard Drew Buggs celebrated as time ran out against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 1. He needed two more games to become UH's all-time assist leader. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

For most of Hawaii’s battle with Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo on Saturday, it appeared the record was destined to fall at the Stan Sheriff Center in the coming week.

Drew Buggs needed only three assists to become UH’s new all-time record-holder, and he was making his customary passes to open teammates. But for whatever reason, those shots weren’t falling in Mott Gym like they had been.

Finally, after UH rallied from 15 points down late in regulation to get the game to overtime, it happened. Buggs dished to Justin Webster, whose 3-pointer gave UH a 75-72 lead with a minute left in OT. Buggs, the redshirt junior out of Long Beach Poly, had surpassed Troy Bowe, the UH point guard who played three seasons from 1988 to 1991, with his 413rd dime.

Unfortunately for UH, it could not hold on to the late lead in falling 79-75 to the Mustangs. Buggs would finish with his first points-rebounds double-double, 19 and 11.

As a Long Beach Poly Jackrabbit, Buggs was a combo/scoring guard and not necessarily considered by some to be a pure point guard. As it turned out, that helped give Buggs all the motivation he needed as he rehabbed from a devastating leg injury his senior year of high school.

He wrote: “Truly a blessing … I remember hearing the critics say I wasn’t a point guard, now I’m in the record books … All credit to my teammates and coaches!! Rest In Peace Mom this is for you!!”

Buggs mother, Mary, died in the preseason.

Buggs averaged 3.6 assists as a redshirt freshman and 5.4 as a third-year sophomore. He’s up to 6.2 this season, which right now ties for sixth-highest with Mark Campbell for a single season (Reggie Carter owns that record of 7.4 in 1975-76, while the career average goes to Anthony Carter at 6.9 from 1996 to 1998).

Here’s the new UH career assists top 10:
1. Drew Buggs (2016- ), 413
2. Troy Bowe (1988-91), 412
3. Anthony Carter (1996-98), 403
4. Kalia McGee (1991-95), 392
5. Roderick Bobbitt (2014-16), 367
6. William Colston (1981-85), 352
7. Tom Henderson (1972-74), 347
8. Alika Smith (1994-98), 344
9. Mark Campbell (2001-03), 343
10. Chris Gaines (1988-90), 332

Buggs has a chance to be one of the only four-year starting point guards/distributors in program history. This year, he will become the first UH player to lead the team in assists three straight years (since assists were first tracked in 1970-71).

Should Buggs play out his senior season in 2020-21, he could leave with some pretty untouchable numbers.

UH (14-8, 5-3 Big West) remains in sole possession of second place. It hosts last-place Long Beach State (7-17, 2-6) on Wednesday and first-place UC Irvine (15-10, 7-2) on Saturday.