Hawaii shines in early morning win over Houston Baptist

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Big West preseason Player of the Year Vander Joaquim showed why he has NBA potential, as the 6-foot-10 center scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Hawaii’s 70-63 early Tuesday morning win over Houston Baptist. The junior big-man missed the last five weeks of practice due to a MCL tear he suffered in preseason training in late September, but looked very sharp, showing a wide variety of high post moves and back-to-the-basket skills.

Hawaii enters the Big West Conference after spending the last 33 seasons as members of the Western Athletic Conference. The Warriors were not carried to victory by Joaquim alone. Nebraska-transfer Christian Standhardinger also had a double-double (14 points and 11 rebounds), and showed off the athleticism that will make his a match-up problem for many Big West programs.

This was the third straight appearance in the early-morning Marathon Madness time-slot and was easily their most impressive. Brandon Spearman and Jace Tavita looked poised and polished in the back court,  and Isaac Fotu (Sporting one of the game’s best afros) provided excellent support up front, logging 9 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks.

For the Huskies, this was their first appearance in front of a nationally televised audience  and while they came away with the loss, the young D-I program looks to be headed in the right direction. Senior forward Art Bernardi lead all scorers with 22 points, and the Huskies fought hard until the final whistle, trimming a 20 point deficit to just seven in the last six minutes of the game.

Hawaii is projected to finish fourth in the Big West, but if Joaquim stays healthy and can continue to shot at a high percentage (61% through three games), and if Tavita and Spearman continue to produce out of the backcourt, this is a team that can challenge Long Beach State for the top spot in the conference.

The win earned Hawaii the title of Rainbow Classic champions, having defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore and Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the process. Joaquim was named the tournament’s Most Valuble Player.

(Image courtesy of Warriors Insider)

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.