Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

A Hawaiian has Hawai’i atop his list

Kaiako “Ako” Kaluna may have been raised in Southern California, but he knows where his Hawaiian roots are. It is a big reason why the big forward dreams of playing for the Hawai’i basketball team.

Kaluna, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound power forward/center from Santa Clarita, said: “As far as college, Hawai’i is at the top of the list. I want to represent my culture and I just love being out there and the family connection it has.”

Kaluna is about to enter his senior year at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, Calif. He was a first-team all-league selection as a junior last season, when he averaged around 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.

He is scheduled to graduate from West Ranch in 2013, so he is considered a recruit for the 2013-14 season.

Among the other programs also looking at Kaluna are BYU, Illinois and Utah State. He is not fully committed to the Warriors yet, but said there are numerous reasons that Hawai’i is his first choice as of now.

For starters, he has relatives from his father’s side of the family on the Big Island and Oahu. Kaluna said he has made several trips through the years to visit those relatives, so he is familiar with the Islands.

Second, he said he thinks his style would fit with the Warriors’ basketball schemes. “I love how their off-court sets and fast breaks are, and the defense,” he said.

Kaluna was the center of attention for the SoCal MP Elite Gold team at the Las Vegas Fab 48 tournament last month. He led the team in scoring and rebounding, and displayed an ability to score from both inside and out.

Perhaps due to his size, he was often left alone on the perimeter – and he responded by draining several 3-pointers. He is also agile for his size, and led the fast break for his team several times.

Kaluna said he is still weighing his options, and hopes to make a decision on his college choice before the early signing period in mid-November.

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Special thanks to Pacific Risk Solutions, Tony Schmidt and family for travel sponsorship for WarriorInsider.com.


  1. 6 feet 7, 270 pounds … can you say offensive tackle, tight end, defensive end? If Kaluna comes here, how long before Chow starts coming to basketball practice? Maybe Ako could do what Miah did? He’s very fluid for a big guy; can you imagine a frontcourt of Fotu and Kaluna, along with Dressler, for three years? Thanks Dayton, and Pacific Risk for the video profiles from Las Vegas.

  2. what you said your name was? “Sir Charles!”.
    welcome home Mr. Barkley, what’s betta for a Hawaiian fighting for Hawaii?

    keep your head straight; just smash the grade & no hold-back, brah!

    the Ohana no can wait to cheer for you.

  3. Would be a huge crowd favorite, hope he decides to play for Hawaii.

  4. Pacific Risk Solutions, Tony Schmidt & Family:

    Mahalo to you as always!

  5. Mahalo Dayton & Co., Pacific Risk

    A SERIES on The Key Recruits is No Ka Oi…
    Nothing Like Hearing and seeing it straight from the recruits, coaches and players…

    Agree Fotu, Ako, Dressler — “West Coast” Poly Board Game…
    Big West will pay for putting up ill-advised shots => UH rebounds
    Even UH shooters should be relatively free to launch with a front-line that has that physicality and heritage for rebounding — Ako “clears” a large space…

  6. Welcome Aboard to the UHMBB Team, Chris McMillian!

    Appreciate the Focus and Physical (and Mental?) improvement your Training and BB Efforts will make with The Team and Program …

    i think part of the Bios for the players should include how much weight, speed or vertical improvement, etc. (as well as pp, rebounds, etc.)… i would think their future prospective (international, Pro, etc.) coaches as well as fans would want to see just how hard they’re working and improving…

  7. Yikes, he’s a big boy. He could be a great banger down low if he can use his size. He doesn’t have very quick feet, but if he trims 20 lbs, he’ll be much faster and just as strong. If nothing else, he’ll clog the lane and get rebounds.

    Hopefully he doesn’t fall in love with jump shots and dribbling because he’ll get picked by D-1 defenders.

    The biggest concern is if Norm Chow takes notice and converts him to an offensive tackle.

  8. i’d pass…without him losing weight especially if he’s gonna be offered scholarship

  9. Nice. Thanks for the update Dayton!

    Good to see that Kaluna has UH high on his list. It would be great to bring a Hawaiian back to the islands… Not too many Polynesians playing college basketball. If we were able to bring in some of Fotu’s NZ teammates (Tai Webster, Rueben Te Rangi) and an Australian (Dane Pineau) for next season, we’d have a very international/Pacific Rim feel.

    I like that Kaluna describes himself as an energy guy who can rebound and pass. That’s what we need from our bigs. From the video he appears to be closer to 6-5 than 6-7 but maybe that’s just me. He has some things to work (conditioning, defense, etc.) but would be another physical, skilled big to develop.

    As another poster mentioned, Kaluna would be great as a TE or OT for the UH football team. If he signs with us, Gib better keep Norm Chow away… though you would think that with Kaluna’s size he would be better suited for football rather than basketball.

  10. Anyone know if Kaluna plays HS football, with his athleticism, he must be good on the gridiron, wonder if he would be two sport star. sounds like Basketball is his first love..maybe wants to be first (I might be wrong, can’t think of any others)of Hawaiian ancestry to play high euro league pro ball or better..maybe, the kid is still young, 16 or 17? Imagine if he grows to 6’9″ 245 lbs..He and Fotu, and Dressler, good Bigs potentially for next 3 or 4 years..awesome..

  11. Hawaiifan09 u suck at trolling lol it’s sad.

  12. Ako said he played football when he was younger, but is now strictly focused on basketball.

  13. Congratulations to Chris McMillian, who was officially named UH’s new Director of Basketball Operations today. Will have more on this later.

    Here is a link to the official UH release:


  14. Congratulations Chris! Well deserved. You will add much to the UH MBB team and its continued drive towards success and stability! Have a great career and the team feels the same as well, you are very likeable and hard working guy. UH is blessed!!

  15. Director Chris McMillian:

    here’s one more virtue to add to your already rich personal excellence collections, PATIENCE!

    you knew fully well that you are with a winner, so you just wait for your opportunity to present itself..

    every member of the TEAM knows that they got a caring brother with them always..

    and you, too who wants everyone of them to be a WINNER!

    May Luck be with YOU ALL.

  16. Chris,

    NO DOUBT you’ll help all bb positions,

    But especially help mold and stregthen our young guards into the most effective and toughest in the league…

    Between your excellence as a player and your expanding understanding of human physiology and human potential
    Help take players and team performance to another level…

    The Man with the Silver Bullets…

    .? Future Master Trainer ?

  17. Don’t know if the DoO’s can coach up players.

  18. pocho: I believe you are correct, they help with a lot of supportive things, however not directly involved in coaching, they can, and have always said words of encouragement during practices, scrimmages, workouts and games. That is why their title is not assistant coach. For Chris, this is the step in right direction, if his goal is College MBB coaching..he is a great fit, the team and Gib really like him..And one GOOD thing, along with Gib, Benjy, Brandyn ,Coach Fish, and now Chris, they have been together for going on 3 seasons, which is good for program.Wish them all the best for a really good season. Now Gib has to fill that very important strength and conditioning position or else work with Football coordinator? I am not sure how that goes. either way, great hire of Chris McMillian.!!

  19. When The Gibper had Roese on Staff the DoOs at that time(Fisher, I thinks) could have filled in place when Roese went on to coach the intern’l team during the off season. Or something like that

  20. Pocho: My apologies, I forgot all about Walter Roese! Well, Chris is available to help MBB team. I don’t think he does X and O’s stuff, however, Kelly Rupp last year, was always speaking to guys at practice and at SSC..am sure if he had suggestions, he being so experienced, could say something, and probably did to Gib..Maybe others or Dayton, knows exactly what Chris’ job entitles?

    Mahalo Dayton!

  21. Aloha kākou,

    Kaiako looks like a good boy.

    E Kaiako, e hoʻi mai i Hawaiʻi nei. E lilo i Koa Ānuenue!

    kden, puhi

  22. First of all much mahalos for the outstanding coverage of the happenings. Amazing that you were able to get in person interviews with Kaluna and Armstead. I’m really hoping that Gib’s surprise is a PG who will help ease the load off of Tavita and Clair. Looking forward to a big first year in the BW and continued coverage of the team from WI.

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