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Meet the Warriors: Davis Rozitis

One of the most intriguing players on the Hawaii basketball team won’t even get on the court this season.

Davis Rozitis is sitting out this season as a redshirt after transferring to Hawaii from USC. He is a 7-footer with shooting range from beyond the 3-point arc. He was born and raised in Latvia, but speaks English as well as anybody else on the team.

He is also relatively new to the game of basketball, or at least the American version of it, because he has been in the United States for less than two years.

“I’m really working hard toward next year, so I can play for this crowd,” said Rozitis, who will be a sophomore and have three seasons of eligibility starting next season. “I see this crowd cheering for the guys … here in Hawaii, UH is like big time. The guys are like idols, everybody knows you. It’s kind of cool.”

Although he is listed at 7 feet tall, Rozitis admits he is not a typical college center. He’s probably more Dirk Nowitzki than Shaquille O’Neal.

“I’m not like a (center), I’m more of a (power forward),” he said. “I have an outside touch. I play European style basketball, so I’m not selfish. I rather give a pass, drive and kick. I’ll attack the basket, but I’ll make open looks for my teammates, too.”

Rozitis also happens to be the only player with past experience as Gib Arnold as a head coach. When Rozitis was at USC last season, Arnold was an assistant coach there.

After a coaching change was made at USC, Arnold eventually became the head coach at Hawaii. Rozitis was told by the new USC regime that he might not fit in anymore, so he opted to transfer. After looking at several other schools, he decided to follow Arnold to Hawaii.

“He’s different now because he’s the head coach,” Rozitis said of Arnold. “Last year at USC, he was assistant, so he didn’t say as much. Now you can tell he’s the head coach.”

Although Rozitis cannot participate in games this season, he can practice with the team. He usually serves as the center on the scout team.

“I’ll help the team any way I can this year, and I hope it makes me better for next year,” he said.

Rozitis also happens to be the only player on the Hawaii roster with a Diamond Head Classic championship. USC won it last year, and a photograph of Rozitis raising the championship trophy was featured in several newspapers and on various websites.

“Good contacts with the seniors,” is how Rozitis said a freshman like himself ended up with the trophy. “I just lifted it over my head and next day I was all over the place. But I know what’s the feeling like to win the Diamond Head Classic … and I think we can win it this year.”

The Warriors will begin play in the 2010 Hawaiian Airlines on Wednesday against Florida State.

In addition to contributing to the team, Rozitis also wants to finish his career at Hawaii with a college degree. It is the main reason why his parents allowed him to attend college in the United States in 2009.

As part of his preparation for American life and language, Rozitis studied various movies. The first one he watched was “American Pie.”

“I know it’s not the best movie to learn from,” he said. “But it was the first one I watched so I remember it.”

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