As the 2018-19 gets underway for the Hawaii men’s basketball team on Friday night, an interesting question arises:
Who will be the Rainbow Warriors’ leading scorer?
Usually, you’ve got a couple of clear-cut responses to that query. Fifth-year senior Mike Thomas was the logical leader going into 2017-18 and followed through with a team-best 13.1 points per game. You had a feeling Noah Allen would emerge as the guy the year before that.
But this year? You could make a case for roughly half the 15-man roster.
Here’s the chief candidates, in no particular order:
>> Sheriff Drammeh, Sr. G: The skinny Swede has the most game experience of anyone here, going back to the 2015-16 NCAA Tournament season. He opens his final season with 630 career points scored, meaning he needs to average about 12.3 points per game if he plays 30 to become a career 1,000-point scorer. He averaged 10.7 in 29 games as a junior, best among UH’s 10 returnees. But he begins the season coming back from an injury.
>> Zigmars Raimo, Jr. F: The “Raimoceros” has come on strong, no doubt about it. Much has been made of his slimmed-down physique. He put up a team-high 20 points in the exhibition against Hawaii Pacific on 9-for-11 shooting. But, with only 140 career points scored to date (2.7 per game last season), can he transform so quickly into a consistent top option?
>> Jack Purchase, Sr. F: The stretch-4 Aussie has a chance to become the Rainbows’ all-time 3-point leader. Right now, he’s tied for ninth with Trevor Ruffin at 122, and needs 58 to match Zane Johnson for the record of 180 (59 to break the mark). But we’re talking about overall scoring here. He averaged 7.5 points as a junior, coming mostly off the bench behind Mike Thomas and Gibson Johnson. He’ll get more opportunities now.
>> Brocke Stepteau, Sr. G: “Late Clock Brocke” was an efficiency maestro last season, with percentages of .512 from the field, .444 from 3 and .809 from the line. Only a few missed free throws prevented him from joining the exclusive 50-40-90 club. That elite conversion rate added up to 9.5 points per game as a junior. It’s possible he could do the same with some more attempts per game to become the scoring leader.
>> Drew Buggs, So. G: UH’s power point guard averaged 8.1 ppg his redshirt freshman season and could. Encouraging for him, he played in all 30 games last year, his first action since undergoing surgery between high school and college. He’d be a dark horse if he can turn his slashing, paint-finishing game into consistent points by scoring inside over smaller guards.
>> Eddie Stansberry, Jr. G: The junior college transfer is now billed as the team’s top overall 3-point shooter, and he showed some off-the-bounce ability as well against HPU, scoring 12 points. He put up 13.0 ppg his sophomore year at City College of San Francisco. The minutes and shots should be there for him. Without a clear-cut top-shelf returning scorer, it could be the new guy’s role to take.
>> Mate Colina, Fr. C: Young Mate’s potential is high, but will his development progress faster than expected? He’ll be coming off the bench to begin the season, so he’d seem to be a bit of a longshot for top scoring honors. It’s also rare for a back-to-the-basket center to lead his team in scoring with the way the game is played now.
Or maybe it will be someone else entirely. Samuta Avea? Leland Green? Brandon Thomas?
Feel free to posit your pick below.
Former ‘Bows point guard Roderick Bobbitt dropped by Thursday’s team practice. It was a rare appearance back for him since his playing career wrapped up with UH’s NCAA Tournament second-round appearance in 2016. He said he’s trying to keep in shape for a professional opportunity.