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Aloha, Drew

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

Several weeks ago, we heard the rumor that University of Hawaii point guard Drew Buggs was likely to leave the program at the end of the season. That bit of gossip became reality yesterday when the redshirt junior confirmed to Honolulu Star-Advertiser beat reporter Stephen Tsai that he had entered the NCAA’s transfer portal.

By doing so, Buggs would be eligible to play for another school as a graduate transfer next season. Buggs is reportedly on track to graduate in May with a degree in Communications.

Buggs told Tsai: “It’s been a tough year for me, obviously. I told Coach [Eran] Ganot since I’ll be graduating in May, I would like to explore my options and look at the possibilities of playing closer to home or playing at a higher level. But I’m not completely against leaving Hawaii. We talked about the possibility of returning, as well.”

His mother, Mary Buggs, lost her battle with breast cancer last October, just three weeks before Hawaii’s season opener. Lingering injuries seemed to hobble him all season, and particularly during the final stretch of the Big West Conference schedule. Still, Buggs started all 30 games for the ‘Bows this past season. During one six game span, he logged 243 out of a possible 245 minutes. He was a true Warrior.

Buggs is already the program’s all-time leader in assists, with 437. More importantly, he was the team’s unquestioned floor leader. He ran the offense.

He wasn’t perfect. There were times when he dribbled too much, and he never developed a consistent outside shot in his three seasons of action at UH.

But few players were as tough as the Long Beach, California native. And no one had a bigger heart for the game. He will be missed.

The coaching staff was prepared for this possibility. That’s why they are still actively recruiting point guards. Among them is 6-0 Justice Hill, who announced on his Twitter Page that he has received an offer to attend UH. Hill played at Salt Lake Community College this past season after transferring from the University of Arkansas.

Drew Buggs will be tough to replace, but the basketball program will go on, and so will he. He was one of my favorite Rainbow Warriors: tough as nails on the court, gracious and humble away from it.

Here’s an interview I did with him last December, shortly before the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic:

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