Pope commits to UH

The Pope is scheduled to visit Hawaii.

Austin Pope, that is.

Austin Pope at North Idaho College
Austin Pope at North Idaho College

The 6-foot-6 point guard at North Idaho College announced his verbal commitment to play for UH and coach Benjy Taylor on Wednesday, the first received by UH for the 2015-16 season. He said he plans to visit UH after the Final Four, around April 10 to 12.

Pope has two years of eligibility remaining.

“I am sold on Coach Taylor and the program,” said Pope, of Burbank, Calif. “I want the (recruitment) process over and I feel very good about the direction of the program under Coach Benjy. I have friends on the team and I think we can contend for championships year in and year out. I love (their) style of play.”

Pope knows Aaron Valdes well. The two had a shared stop at La Jolla Prep Academy.

Pope averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 16 games at the end of the 2014-15 season, shooting 46.5 percent from the field, 31.4 percent on 3-pointers and 60.9 percent at the free-throw line. He couldn’t play the first half of the season as a transfer from Cerritos (Calif.) College. His game-by-game statistics are here.

Asked to describe his own game, Pope said: “Very versatile. I am a point, but I shoot the ball well enough to play the 2 and in college I think I can play some 3.”

Here’s a 10-minute highlight montage from his 2013-14 season at Cerritos.

Pope said he had interest from Utah, Creighton, Missouri, TCU and Wichita State.

Of course, Taylor’s long-term status with UH is still uncertain, even with the interim coach optimistic about David Matlin‘s introduction as new athletic director on Wednesday (more on that in Thursday’s edition of the Star-Advertiser). Matlin, in turn, sounded appreciative of the on-court season UH put together under Taylor in 2014-15.

Pope was asked what he will do if Taylor does not get the permanent job.

“I’m not sure but I’m dedicated to Benjy and the players currently so we’ll make it happen,” he said.

UH currently has two scholarships to award with Garrett Nevels and Brandon Jawato the only outgoing players, for now. Correction: UH has four, including those assigned to Isaac Fotu and Sammis Reyes. It’ll be interesting to see if all can be handed out, however, with the APR hit UH took by their early departures.

Besides a guard, Taylor has spoken of a need for a strong rebounder and physical interior presence.

The spring signing period opens on April 15.


The UH basketball job was officially posted on the UH website today. It will remain up until April 13.

You can check it out here.


The Rainbow Warriors’ postseason awards banquet/fundraiser on April 29 is also open for sign-ups. You can find the form here; it needs to be returned by April 22. Team secretary Bobbie Omoto is your go-to contact for banquet-related questions at 956-6501.

Individual tickets are $150 while whole tables start at $1,500.


  1. PONO March 25, 2015 7:48 pm

    Does he have 3 to play 2?

  2. H-man March 25, 2015 8:33 pm

    This is interesting. With the head coach situation in limbo, he still commits to UH? I can’t wait to see what Matlin will do.

  3. oldtimer808 March 25, 2015 9:33 pm

    My hope is AD Matlin looks at Coach Taylor’s body of work and the kind of excitement his team brought to the fans of Hawaii. Although as some people have pointed out, that there were some personal issues which I don’t think should be any of our business and a negative towards Coach Taylor with doing his job. I doubt there is anyone out there that has not had some personal issues in their lives but still had the ability to do their jobs. If that was an important issue than I suppose that there would be lots of folks without their jobs. I forsee good things for the program with the kind of attitude Coach Taylor demonstrated from the beginning when he took over a difficult task of keeping our team together.

  4. Derek March 25, 2015 9:40 pm

    This is only a verbal commitment. Letter of intent signing period starts on April 15 until sometime in May. If Taylor doesn’t get the job he might go elsewhere. Or he might stay and sign with UH because of Valdes, Thomas, and Quincy. It’s still a waiting game.

  5. Kaimiloa March 25, 2015 10:02 pm

    Welcome Austin! I think he only has 2 since he played a prep school year. Does UH really take a hit for Fotu leaving early? I thought there was no penalty if the player signed a pro contract.

  6. Pocho March 26, 2015 5:08 am

    Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!
    Go Get Em Q! Hook Em Up and Reel Em In!

  7. 808warriorfan March 26, 2015 8:36 am

    Sign Benjy up, Keep Laura happy, and “Q” get us some inside “bangers”

  8. bouncingball March 26, 2015 8:45 am

    A good complementary player but not a star nor a critical component. Need a pure shooting guard and a power inside player because none of the present players can play effectively inside, especially Thomas who is a wimp inside. 60% free shooting percentage for a guard is atrocious, just like Quincy Smith and we certainly don’t need another player like him ( and please, don’t take that as a negative against Smith, just stating a fact that another player like him is not what UH needs).

  9. bouncingball March 26, 2015 8:53 am

    Let’s not forget Benji blew his opportunity to continue to coach for at least another year because he and his agent thought they had the upper hand early in the year when the record was good prior to conference play. I don’t see any other school knocking down his door to hire him and Benji realizes that too now. How that saying go about having something is hand is better than…? I hope his agent is not the same one representing Gib.

  10. NorthShoreFan March 26, 2015 8:56 am

    Totally confused…how Kentucky can play “one and done” players each year and not suffer any APR problems? Must be some mistake about APR and how to calculate. Another confusing thing is how North Carolina can have a ton of athletes take bogus classes for years and not get any punishment. If APR is a reason to “punish” programs, then how did NC avoid it?
    Truly… No Clue At All.

  11. NorthShoreFan March 26, 2015 8:59 am

    me thought AR took hit if athlete leaves with poor academic standing. gotta go check out Kentucky “one and done” players. probably taking basket weaving type courses…lol

  12. Warrior Dog March 26, 2015 9:45 am

    Lets be serious here. He averaged 12-13 points a game at JC. He will be a 4-6 point average or worse at D-1. We another bench player on the way. We need someone that averaged 18 or more to replace Nevels. Look at what he did at JC and he averaged only 10-11 for us. Sorry no excitement from this signing. I like Benji but is this what he can recruit?. We will be having a great deal of problems next year if this is so.

  13. Keith Elliott March 26, 2015 11:15 am


  14. James March 26, 2015 11:26 am

    As someone who works with the APR you are misunderstanding how it works. Simply put, schools that lose players to pro ball do not fall under the same categories as transfers and dropouts. That is why Kentucky can avoid the penalties. Also, #9 Benjy did now blow his opportunity as the contract said that he could be replaced at ANYTIME without reasons. So basically he did not even have 1-year job security. Would you have taken the contract. Please try to know what you are talking about before posting, ignorance is not bliss in this case.

  15. Jonathan Givony March 26, 2015 11:41 am

    First things first you can’t compare Pope to Nevels, 2 different players. Pope played at a national JC against high level JC players, Nevels played in the Cali JC system not the best competition. I’ve seen Pope play multiple times in the AAU circuit with Big West Standout Mamadou(Double Pump Elite)Hawaii should definitely be proud of this steal. Kid can flat out ball! Maybe not the same shooter as Nevels but in terms of scoring he gives a variety. Great rebounder and great with decision making, won’t surprise me if he’s top 5 big west scoring rebounding and assists. I work for Draft Express and a lot of my co-workers can see Pope making big bucks in this game with a right fit! High Major kid in a high school kids body but don’t let his numbers define his skill set! You’ll thank Benjy for this pick up in a year or 2 I promise.

  16. bouncingball March 26, 2015 2:17 pm

    #13, anyone in ANY job can be replaced at any time without reason. Does Gib being let go “without cause” ring a bell? Before you show your ignorance, you may want to talk to a good labor lawyer.

  17. islandman March 26, 2015 3:59 pm

    If not so good, how come Oregon and a few other good schools were recruiting him ?
    Also, you have to realize, this is Hawaii, a mid-major, 2500 miles from CA. When was the last 3 or 4 star recruit we had in basketball that wasn’t a transfer in ? Maybe one recently ?

  18. James March 26, 2015 7:45 pm

    #14, no coach would take that contract. Yes, anyone can be fired without cause but even Gib got a settlement. Taylor wasn’t even guaranteed that. Would you take a contract where they said they could replace you at anytime even within that one year? Then you’re not that smart. I wouldn’t take it. Most coaches contracts have buy out clauses, ever heard of that genius. By the way, if you want to continue this, my email is jimmyhouse67@aol.com because I don’t hide behind an anonymous name like you and the others. Feel free to email me directly.

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