Isaac Fotu

Isaac Fotu

Hawaii officially loses star player to professional basketball

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Hawaii’s star forward Isaac Fotu announced on Monday that he would be leaving the program and entering the NBA Draft.

Fotu averaged 14.9 points and 6.1 boards as a sophomore for the Rainbow Warriors. He was named to the preseason all-Big West team. But he also got caught up in the issues that cost head coach Gib Arnold his job and, last week, was ruled ineligible for the 2014-2015 season.

The native New Zealander thus decided that he would be better off by heading off to the professional ranks than to continue his education while sitting out.

The decision is not really a surprise, but it is a blow to the Hawaii program.

Here is his statement in full, via the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

After much thought and discussions with my family, I have decided to forgo my last 2 years at UH, and pursue a professional basketball career.

This was not an easy decision. I came to Hawaii to play for coach Gib and coach Akana, both were instrumental in me growing as both a person and basketball player. I believe this was going to (be the) best season yet.

I’ve turned down opportunities to (turn) pro every summer because returning to Hawaii was an easy decision, but now, with the program headed in a different direction, I believe it’s time to chase the professional basketball dream, and hopefully help support my family.

In regards to my ineligibility announced last week, which by the way had no bearing on my decision, I have hired an attorney to help clear my name, if and / or when any accusations are released by the NCAA.

I thank all my teammates (brothers) at UH, and mostly the fans of Rainbow Warrior basketball. The people of Hawaii have welcomed me since the day I arrived, and all that aloha made my stay enjoyable. I enjoyed every minute I got to represent the University of Hawaii and I will look back at many wonderful memories.

Aloha ‘oe, until we meet again!

Isaac Fotu


All-Big West forward declared ineligible at Hawaii

Isaac Fotu
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It’s bad enough when a program has to fire its head coach in late-October, just a couple weeks before the start of the season as Hawaii did earlier this week. Now add to this the fact that the Rainbow Warriors’ best player has been declared ineligible by the NCAA, and what you have are the makings of what could be a very tough season for interim head coach Benjy Taylor.

Earlier this week junior forward Isaac Fotu, an All-Big West selection last season and a preseason All-Big West choice heading into the 2014-15 season, was declared ineligible as part of the NCAA’s investigation into the program for allegedly receiving impermissible benefits. Head coach Gib Arnold and assistant Brandyn Akana were fired earlier this week in what was viewed as a preemptive strike by the school in response to the NCAA investigation.

Fotu averaged 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore, and with fellow All-Big West forward Christian Standhardinger out of eligibility he was expected to lead the way for Hawaii. Now all Fotu can do is practice while holding out hope that the appeal for reinstatement is granted.

And according to KHON2, Fotu isn’t the only concern from a player standpoint as some have been approached by other schools hoping to take advantage of the tumult within the Hawaii program.

Taylor confirmed that several players on the team were contacted by other programs in an attempt to capitalize on the ongoing turmoil.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if I’m going to be the head coach. I know I’m the acting head coach but I don’t know what that means, so we’ll just have to wait and see,” Taylor said. “The people of Hawaii deserve a really, really good product. This is a really good team. This is a good group of guys. It takes time to build a team, build a program and that’s what we’ve been doing. This is our fifth year and we feel like this is it. This is our year.”

With the NCAA having wrapped up its investigation, the next step for Hawaii is to receive a notice of allegations in the near future. Add to this the fact that athletic director Ben Jay is on medical leave, and it’s anything but smooth sailing at Hawaii.

Hawaii’s Isaac Fotu, Nebraska’s Tai Webster feature in New Zealand World Cup win

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New Zealand hasn’t exactly had the most impressive performance at the 2014 FIBA World Cup — they picked up their first win of the event on Wednesday by beating Ukraine 73-61 — but they have been the team that college basketball fans have paid the most attention to.

Two of the five collegians that made a roster for the World Cup play for the Tall Blacks, and Hawaii star Isaac Fotu may be the best of the bunch right now. He averaged 14.9 points and 6.1 boards last season, and has put together a pretty impressive performance at the World Cup. In Wednesday’s win, he finished with 10 points and 10 boards.

His head coach at Hawaii, Gib Arnold, is in Bilbao, Spain, and has raved about Fotu’s play.

”He’s a perfect fit for Hawaii and we couldn’t ask for a better kid from New Zealand,” Arnold told Fairfax Media. ”He’s an absolute king of the island — they love him. He’s on all the billboards, all the posters, people wear his jerseys. We are a pretty big city, one of the biggest in America, with no pro team. So he’s the Kobe Bryant, the Kevin Durant of Hawaii.”

Arnold has to be ecstatic with that he’s seen thus far from Fotu, who thinks that this tournament will be a big step for him going forward.

”It’s been great for my game and I’ve learnt a lot just playing against older, more experienced guys,” he told Fairfax Media. ”It will be a good transition going back for my junior year, and I’m definitely going to be better for it.”

Tai Webster, a rising sophomore guard for Nebraska, finished with eight points, seven boards and three assists for the Kiwis while Kansas freshman Svi Mykhailiuk played just three minutes before getting pulled.

Yannick Moreira, New Zealand’s Haka dance highlight Tuesday’s World Cup

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New Zealand got their chance to play against the United States in group play of the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday, and while the Kiwis impressed with their pregame Haka dance, the Americans still won, 98-71.

The loss dropped New Zealand to 0-3 in group play and put them in a position where advancing is going to be a tall task.

That’s really neither here nor there for college hoop fans, but it’s worth noting that there are two collegiate hoopers on that New Zealand team — Tai Webster of Nebraska and Isaac Fotu of Hawaii. Against the Americans, Webster finished with just four points in 15 points, going 1-for-5 from the floor and turning the ball over four times against Team USA’s loaded back court. Fotu faired a little bit better, chipping in with eight points and a pair of rebounds in 17 minutes.

Webster and Fotu have been solid playing against some very good competition, but perhaps the most impressive college player at the event has been Angola’s Yannick Moreira, who plays for Larry Brown at SMU. Moreira was a top JuCo recruit in the Class of 2013 but wasn’t quite as good as he was expected to be as a junior. That may change next season, however, as Moreira has had a pair of big games in Bilbao. He finished with 16 points and 10 boards last week against Korea and, on Tuesday, he posted team-highs of 13 points and nine boards in a loss to Mexico.

The only other college hooper in action in Tuesday’s World Cup action was Kansas guard Svi Mykhailiuk. He went scoreless in nine minutes against Turkey, but the Urkanians picked up a key win over Turkey. The win will go a long way towards getting Urkaine through group play.

Ohio senior forward contributes to Senegal’s first FIBA worlds victory since 1998

Maurice Ndour
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Prior to Sunday, Senegal’s senior national team hadn’t won a game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly known as the FIBA World Championships) since 1998. That changed Sunday afternoon, as the Senegalese held off Puerto Rico by the final score of 82-75. Senegal’s squad was led by Mouhammad Faye (20 points) and former Louisville (and current Minnesota Timberwolf) center Gorgui Dieng, who accounted for 18 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.

Senegal is also one of four teams at the FIBA Basketball World Cup that has a current college player on its roster, and on Sunday Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour provided some help off the bench. Ndour accounted for eight points, two rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes of action off the bench. In two games at the Basketball World Cup Ndour, who was a second team All-MAC selection last season, is averaging 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Next up for Ndour and his teammates is a game against Croatia Monday morning.

Ndour was the only collegian at the event to experience victory on Sunday, and he was also the most productive from an offensive standpoint. New Zealand’s college tandem of Isaac Fotu (Hawaii) and Tai Webster (Nebraska) combined to score four points and grab six rebounds in their team’s 75-62 loss to the Dominican Republic, with Webster accounting for four of the six rebounds. Next up for New Zealand: the United States on Tuesday.

SMU senior center Yanick Moreira, who posted a double-double in Angola’s win over South Korea on Saturday, wasn’t as effective in his team’s 75-62 loss to Lithuania. Moreira finished the game with two points and two rebounds in just five minutes of action. Lastly there was Kansas freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who played ten minutes in Ukraine’s 81-76 loss to Finland. Mykhailiuk scored four minutes during his time on the floor, which came after not playing at all in Ukraine’s opener Saturday.

SMU center’s double-double leads Angola to win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

SMU v Memphis
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Saturday marked the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, with the United States and hosts Spain both coasting to comfortable victories. The event is loaded with professionals, which is to be expected, with there being just five players currently on college basketball rosters participating. Among those five is Angola center Yanick Moreira, who’s a member of Larry Brown’s program at SMU.

Moreira played in just 23 games last season due to injury, so this time on the court ahead of the 2014-15 season could prove valuable for him as he looks to solidify his spot alongside Markus Kennedy in the SMU front court rotation. Moreira got off to a good start Saturday, accounting for 16 points and ten rebounds in Angola’s 80-69 victory over South Korea. Moreira made seven of his eleven field goal attempts, and six of his ten rebounds were of the offensive variety.

After being outscored 30-16 in the third quarter, which wiped out most of Angola’s 18-point halftime advantage, the Angolans outscored Korea 28-21 in the final quarter. As part of Group D, which includes Lithuania, Slovenia, Australia and Mexico, Angola is looking to earn one of four available slots in the knockout rounds. Saturday’s win gets them off to a good start, and Moreira and company will look to move to 2-0 when they face group favorite Lithuania Sunday afternoon.

Moreira was the lone collegian to reach double digits Saturday, but he wasn’t also the only player to experience victory. Ukraine’s Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who will join the Kansas program immediately after his tournament is completed, did not see any action in Ukraine’s 72-62 win over the Dominican Republic. The Ukraine is in Group C, which in addition to the favored USA has three current college basketball players.

The other two current collegians in Group C are New Zealand’s Isaac Fotu (Hawaii) and Tai Webster (Nebraska). Both saw time in New Zealand’s 76-73 loss to Turkey, with Fotu accounting for seven points and four rebounds in the defeat and Webster finishing with six points and five rebounds. Corey Webster led New Zealand with 22 points and Rob Loe, who played his college basketball at Saint Louis, added 11 to go along with six rebounds.

Maurice Ndour, who will be a senior at Ohio this season, accounted for four points, three rebounds and two steals in Senegal’s 87-64 loss to Greece in Group B play. Gorgui Dieng, who played at Louisville, paced Senegal with 21 points and 14 rebounds.