Hawaii men’s basketball: Carl English finally gets his senior night

Honorary Hawaii game captain Carl English (with lei) watched UH's game on senior night with old teammates Phil Martin and Ryne Holliday, and brother Michael English. / Photo by Andrew Lee, Special to the Star-Advertiser

As a player, Carl English never had a senior night, and that is to the dismay of many University of Hawaii basketball fans who like to speculate on what might have happened if English had come back for his final season of eligibility, 2003-04.

To them, it was a waste, because English was not picked in the NBA Draft.

What they seem to forget, though, is that English got something more important than a senior night at UH celebrating his college basketball career … he got a senior day celebrating his academic achievement. He graduated, and that was a big factor in his decision to move on to pro basketball, he said.

English — one of the all-time greats in the 100 years of UH basketball, an ace 3-point shooter and starter on two NCAA Tournament teams — was the honorary captain for tonight’s 49-43 loss to UC Riverside that probably had ‘Bows coach Eran Ganot searching for some kind of loophole that would let English suit up and play the second half, even at age 39.

But English decided a long time ago he was done with college basketball.

“I wouldn’t have left until I had my degree. For me it was the time, the time I chose,” English said after tonight’s game.

English survived and thrived despite childhood tragedy, losing both of his parents in a house fire in his native Newfoundland when he was 5. Basketball became his refuge, and talent combined with hard work made him a phenom.

He came to UH despite scholarship offers from 50 other colleges, including powerhouses such as Syracuse. So, another thing not realized by those who expected him to stay that extra year — Hawaii was lucky to have had him at all.

“Every time something goes wrong, people look at it and say shoulda done this shoulda done that. … For me it was the decision I made, and gotta live with it,” English said.

Some still want to say it was a bad choice. But he was ready to leave, diploma in hand … and how, exactly, would one more year of college have made him more NBA-ready?

English just retired from pro basketball, playing on teams in leagues all over the world.

“I could have,” he said, when asked if he thought about trying again for the NBA at various points after not making it early in his career with Indiana and Seattle. “But I had a great career overseas and I was happy with where I was at, and where I was playing.

“I kept fighting and played almost 20 years,” said English, who was a star in Europe and Canada and played on the Canadian national team. “Decisions you make, you can’t tell what the future’s going to be. Obviously it would’ve been nice to come back for my senior year.”

What’s next?

“Not sure,” he said. “Coaching maybe. I love working with kids. I love teaching kids. It’s interesting to see this. Playing for so long now, I gotta wrap my head around it. I love training kids. I consider these guys kids. When I was here I was just a kid,” English said.

“I got to work with some of the best in the world, and got a lot of knowledge I can teach,” he added.

English described Hawaii as “beautiful, definitely beautiful” and in another interview earlier this week said it’s the people here he cherished and missed most. But he doesn’t foresee moving here.

His wife is from his home of Newfoundland, and they have three children.

“To uproot my family, it has to be a legit situation and with security for them,” he said. “I’ve taken them all over the world.”

Carl English’s return to Hawaii is not permanent. But at least he has now experienced senior night, even if it is 16 years later.

“They fought, they fought ’til the end,” he said. “I wish them all the best.”


  1. H-Man March 1, 2020 11:08 am

    Carl English is a exemplary role model for young athletes. Glad he chose to play for Hawaii.

  2. rabbit ears March 2, 2020 10:54 am

    Remember him as a freshman. Thinking who is this kid. DIdn’t realize he was that highly recruited. Good luck to him and his family.

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