Hawaii men’s basketball: Eddie Stansberry takes torrid scoring into Diamond Head Classic

Eddie Stansberry put up a 3-pointer — one of his Hawaii-record 16 attempts from long range — against Samford last Sunday. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

Eddie would shoot. And, more importantly for the Hawaii mens basketball team, Eddie would score.

Heading into the start of the 2019 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic today, host Hawaii is one of seven teams in the eight-team field with a winning record, at 7-3.

Eddie Stansberry, a senior shooting guard with the Rainbow Warriors, has a lot to do with that. His seven 20-point games, among 10 played, have hiked his overall scoring average to 19.7 — which represents the highest for a UH player in a season since Predrag Savovic’s 20.3 in 2001-02.

Here’s the complete list of UH players who’ve averaged more than 19.7 in a single season.
23.4 — Gavin Smith (1976-77)
22.4 — Anthony Harris (1995-96)
20.8 — Trevor Ruffin (1993-94)
20.3 — Predrag Savovic (2001-02)
20.2 — Fred Smith (1967-68)
19.9 — Ray Reed (1990-91)
19.8 — Tom Henderson (1972-73)

That’s it.

A year ago, as a newcomer out of San Francisco City College, Stansberry put in 11.3 points per game, shooting 39.1 percent from the floor (35.8 percent from 3). This year he’s converting 46.6 percent overall and 42.7 percent from long range, while playing no fewer than 32 minutes in any game (and three in which he played all 40), injecting himself prominently in the Big West Player of the Year discussion.

After his five-point clunker in the season opener against Florida A&M, he’s averaged an eye-popping 21.3.

“Just getting a year under my belt, it’s a big transition from the junior college level, just coming in the first year, learning the system,” Stansberry said this week. “Playing at the tempo, the Division I tempo is a lot different. So, I think last year was kind of a learning year. I’m still learning, even being a senior now. But just having a year under my belt helps a lot, because my confidence has gone up the roof, especially with these group of guys that feed me the confidence every single day.”

Having a go-to bucket-getter of his magnitude is quite a reversal for the Rainbow Warriors, who had two players, Jack Purchase and Zigmars Raimo, tie for team-high honors last year at 11.5 That was the lowest for a UH team leader in the all-college era (since 1970).

He’s already halfway to matching his triple total of 77 from last year. His current rate of 3.8 triples made per game, should he play the remaining 20-or-so games on the season, would give him 114 — well ahead of Zane Johnson’s single-season record 98 from 2010-11.

While he’s still doing his scoring first and foremost as a 3-point threat, he’s shown a much better propensity for driving and finishing at the rim, or dishing to open teammates.

He needs just seven more 20-point games to crack into the top-eight most such games in a season in program history.

20-point games, single season:
18 — Anthony Harris (1995-96); Gavin Smith (1976-77)
16 — Trevor Ruffin (1993-94)
14 — Michael Kuebler (2003-04); Carl English (2002-03); Predrag Savovic (2001-02); Ray Reed (1990-91); Tom Henderson (1972-73)

UH will likely need all the scoring it can wring out of Stansberry through Christmas. The DHC field, as mentioned above, features a bunch of teams that aren’t used to losing.

Here’s how the eight teams in this year’s DHC stack up in KenPom rating and record heading into Day 1 of the tournament:
34 — Houston (7-3)
50 — Washington (8-2)
106 — Ball State (6-4)
107 — Boise State (6-4)
111 — Georgia Tech (4-5)
116 — UTEP (8-2)
158 — Hawaii (7-3)
265 — Portland (8-4)


  1. 808 December 23, 2019 10:48 am

    You jinxed him with such a good story on him, Brian! Just kidding!

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