The 2019 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic tips off this Sunday at the Stan Sheriff Center. Now in its 11th year, this eight-team holiday tournament provides three full days of top-flight college basketball. This year’s field includes Ball State, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Houston, Portland, UTEP, nationally ranked Washington and host Hawaii. Games will be held Dec. 22, 23 and on Christmas Day. (Hawaii hosts UTEP on opening night.) To help you prepare for the DHC, here is a “Player 2 Watch” for every participating team:
BALL STATE Player2Watch: TAHJAI TEAGUE
Started all 33 games for the Cardinals last season, joining the program’s 1,000-point club as a junior. Has scored in double figures 55 times and recorded 14 double-doubles. Led his team in rebounding (7.5 per game) and steals (44) last season, and finished second on the squad in scoring (13.5 per game). Ranked second in the MAC and among the Top 50 nationally in field goal percentage (55%). Posted career highs in points (28) and rebounds (14) against Eastern Washington last year.
BOISE STATE Player2Watch: JUSTINIAN JESSUP
Returns for his senior season after leading the Broncos in points (453), rebounds (149), assists (88), steals (35) and blocked shots (17) as a junior. Became the first player in program history to lead the team in all five statistical categories. Is on track to break the school’s career three-point record. Entered the season No. 21 on Boise State’s all-time scoring list. Started 89 games for the Broncos. Ranked third in the Mountain West last season in minutes played (35.5 per game).
James Banks III
GEORGIA TECH Player2Watch: JAMES BANKS III
Excellent rim protector and rebounder for the Jackets. Has a wingspan of 7 feet and 5.35 inches, and a standing reach of 9 feet and 3.5 inches. Joined Georgia Tech in the summer of 2018 after spending two seasons at Texas. Ranked 10th nationally last season in blocked shots (2.52 per game). Started Tech’s final 25 games and finished the season strong, averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds in the team’s final four games. Converted 26 of 35 shots during that stretch.
HAWAII Player2Watch: ZIGMARS RAIMO
6-9 forward from Madona, Latvia is Hawaii’s most veteran players, playing 84 games through his first three seasons. Started all 31 games last season. Saw his scoring average leap nearly 10 points last year, co-leading the Rainbow Warriors at 11.5 points per game. Earned the team’s “Most Improved Player Award.” Recorded a team-best four double-doubles, including a 14-point, 17-rebound performance against Colorado in last year’s Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Named All-Academic Big West.
HOUSTON Player2Watch: DeJON JARREAU
Honored as the 2018-19 American Athletic Conference “Sixth Man of the Year.” Finished 14th in the league with 3.3 assists per game and 15th in field goal percentage. Scored 18 points in road win at Connecticut. Posted a career-high 12 rebounds in home victory over Temple. Recorded 10 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds in NCAA Tournament First-Round win over Georgia State.
PORTLAND Player2Watch: JOJO WALKER
Junior guard is the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 11.5 points per game last season, including four 20-plus outings. Has led the Pilots in assists the last two seasons, ranking eighth in the West Coast Conference last season (3.3 per game). Scored a career-high 23 points in come-from-behind win at Cal State Northridge. Enters the season as the team’s active leader in points scored, minutes played, steals, free throws made and 3-pointers made.
UTEP Player2Watch: BRYSON WILLIAMS
Athletic and versatile forward sat out last season after transferring from Fresno State. Developed an outside shot during his redshirt year. Scored 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds on Nov. 5 in his UTEP debut. Averaged 14 points as a sophomore and received All-Mountain West Third Team honors. Poured in a career-high 30 points on 14-of-17 shooting against Cal State Monterey Bay. Recorded 23 points and 9 rebounds against San Diego State in the MW Tournament.
WASHINGTON Player2Watch: ISAIAH STEWART
2019 Naismith High School Player of the year. Talented freshman tallied 15 points and 7 boards in his college debut on Nov. 8. 2019 McDonalds All-American who was ranked No. 3 in the country for the 2019 class. Named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Watch List for “Center of the Year.” All-USA Today First-Team selection as a high school senior last year. Active member of USA Basketball, helping his U-17 squad win gold at the 2018 FIBA World Cup.
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