Tummala commits to UH

As will appear in Thursday’s print edition of the Star-Advertiser, former Arizona State forward Sai Tummala has given an oral commitment to Hawaii and coach Eran Ganot, per sources.

Tummala, a 6-foot-6, 218-pound, 3-4 hybrid, should become official in the coming days.

This isn’t a typical Division I to Division I transfer, and it’s potentially a big get for Ganot in the short term. Tummala has graduated — with flying colors — from ASU and has a single year of eligibility left. As as a graduate student, he is eligible to play right away at another D-I school, ala Keith Shamburger last year from UH to Missouri. Tummala was here on a visit earlier in the week.

Sai Tummala  (Arizona State photo)
Sai Tummala
(Arizona State photo)

UH was hurting for big bodies often last season. Now Stefan Jankovic, Stefan Jovanovic and Mike Thomas have a little more help.

The left-handed Tummala should immediately provide UH with a boost up front, and perhaps on the wing as well (he can play the 3 or 4 as needed). He appeared sparingly in two seasons at ASU, but remember, the Sun Devils are a power conference program that finished in the middle of the Pac-12 pack this past season. Prior to ASU, Tummala put up some good numbers (14.8 ppg and 41 percent on 3s) as a redshirt freshman on a great (29-5) team at Salt Lake Community College.

But the thing that jumps out the most about the Phoenix native is his immaculate academic record. Tummala had a 4.0 GPA in an honors curriculum as a pre-med student, all while juggling the demands of being a college basketball player. That included passing the MCAT exam in the 80th percentile in midseason.

His background is pretty fascinating. His parents, who hail from India, are both medical professionals. His sister, Shilpa, plays women’s basketball at Harvard and is a neurobiology major.

Tummala started his college career as a walk-on at Michigan, redshirted, then took a gamble going to junior college to up his profile. He wound up latching on with a home-state school in ASU under Herb Sendek, who is now departed. (Coincidentally, former Rainbow Bo Barnes was his teammate there, as was would-be Rainbow Gerry Blakes.)

Here’s an interview Tummala did with Arizona State media back in 2013 when he joined the program. Here’s a highlight package from his one season at SLCC, 2012-13. And lastly, a 10-minute hoops workout video he put together in his Michigan days.

Not only do Hawaii and Ganot give Tummala the biggest chance he’s had to make an impact at the D-I level — he averaged just 4.2 minutes in 14 games last season — but the opportunity to further his career goals at the John A. Burns School of Medicine as well.

Tummala represents the second scholarship UH has awarded this offseason, the first being Bryce Canda of Central Wyoming College.

Operating on the assumption (for now) that UH has 12 scholarships with which to operate thanks to the university’s self-imposed sanctions, and putting one back in the pool thanks to the early departure of Negus Webster-Chan, that leaves two left for Ganot and company to hand out this offseason, barring no other early departures.