Freshman forward elects to return to Hawaii program


The last month has been a difficult one for the Hawaii basketball program. An ongoing NCAA investigation (the school has yet to receive its Letter of Allegations) led to the school deciding to remove head coach Gib Arnold and assistant coach Brandyn Akana from their posts, and All-Big West forward Isaac Fotu was declared ineligible before he decided to turn pro (he’s now in Spain).

Add to this the fact that freshman forward Sammis Reyes decided to leave the program, and acting head coach Benjy Taylor had a host of issues to deal with in advance of the team’s regular season opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff Friday night. However Thursday turned out to be a good day for the Rainbow Warriors, as Reyes returned to practice according to Brian McInnis of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Reyes made note of the persistence of Taylor and assistant coach Senque Carey, with their conversations ultimately leading to Reyes’ change of heart.

“I think the coaching staff really helped me a lot (to) make this decision,” Reyes said after practice. “Coach Q (assistant coach Senque Carey) and Coach Taylor helped me, showing me what they were planning on doing, and all the good stuff that’s going on. So I decided to stay.”

Reyes’ return is important for a team that was already lacking front court depth in the aftermath of Fotu’s departure. Reyes and sophomore forward Michael Thomas will need to produce for Hawaii, with Missouri transfer Stefan Jankovic eligible at the end of the semester.

Taylor will likely have to go small with his lineups in the meantime, with senior Garrett Nevels (13.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg in 2013-14) and Missouri transfer Negus Webster-Chan leading the way on the perimeter.