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Men’s Hoops: Who’s Starting?

By Lance Tominaga.

Although the college basketball season is underway, the University of Hawaii men’s team is still piecing together its non-conference schedule. That’s unfortunate, because local hoops fans are eager to see the new-look Rainbow Warriors in action.

The team lost four starters from last season (Eddie Stansberry, Zigmars Raimo, Drew Buggs and Dawson Carper) as well as bench players Owen Hulland and Jessica Villa, but in their place are seven newcomers plus Junior Madut, who sat our last season as a redshirt.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, practices have been closed to the media and general public. Thus, this team is somewhat of a mystery. But we’re going to take a stab at guessing what the starting lineup might look like. Of course, coming off the bench doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Head coach Eran Ganot has never been afraid to play nine or even ten players during any given game. Moreover, this team appears to have depth at every position and many players are versatile enough to play multiple positions. For example, although we have Justin Webster coming off the bench, the 6-3 sophomore can play three different positions and will most likely play starter’s minutes.

Here’s our projected starting lineup:

C – JAMES JEAN-MARIE. The senior transfer played last season at San Diego, where he started 28 games and averaged 7.4 points and 5.2 boards in just over 25 minutes of action per game. At 6-8 and 230 lbs., Jean-Marie plays with aggressiveness and should be a fixture in the post. BACKUPS: Bernardo da Silva, Mate Colina

PF – CASDON JARDINE. The 6-7 graduate transfer from Utah Valley University brings experience, leadership and a deft shooting touch to the team. Led the Wolverines in three-point FGs last season (57, 39%). Clever around the rim as well. BACKUPS: Justin Hemsley, da Silva, Beon Riley

SF – SAMUTA AVEA. Has steadily improved every season as a Rainbow Warrior, and last year finished second on the team in scoring (10.8 avg.) and three-pointers made (39). The 6-6, 200-lb. senior finished the 2019-19 campaign strong, posting back-to-back career highs in scoring (18, 20) in the final two regular-season games. Will provide scoring, leadership and athleticism. BACKUPS: Manel Ayol, Riley, Zoar Nedd

[UPDATE: Samuta Avea has announced that he will be opting out of the 2020-21 season with the intention of returning to the team in 2021-22. We are pencilling in Justin Webster or Manel Ayol as the starter in his place.]

WG – JUNIOR MADUT. Ready to make his Rainbow Warrior debut after redshirting last season. The 6-6, 180-lb. wing has reportedly improved his outside shot and will be looked upon to provide scoring and defense. Prior to UH, Madut averaged 9.6 points and 6.5 boards per game as a sophomore at Eastern Florida State College. Nowhere near the shooter that Stansberry was, but is more athletic and can explode to the hoop. BACKUPS: Justin Webster, Riley

PG – JOVON MCCLANAHAN. Heralded recruit averaged 23.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists last year as a freshman at Sheridan College in Wyoming. The 5-11, 170-lb. lead guard shot an impressive 47.8 percent from the field, 44.5 percent from behind the three-point arc and 87.8 from the free throw line. McClanahan will be entrusted with running the offense and providing scoring punch. BACKUPS: Noel Coleman, Biwali Bayles, Kameron Ng

ESPN Honolulu’s Tiff Wells conducted a Zoom interview with McClanahan earlier this fall. You can watch the discussion here:

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