Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Road trips not just about playing games

Road trips to Southern California will not be just about playing games in the Big West Conference for the Hawai’i basketball team. Head coach Gib Arnold and his staff did some scouting for recruits during the team’s trip last week, and he said it will not be a one-time thing.

“We know the area, we know there are a lot of good players in the area, and we’re here anyway, so why not,” Arnold said last week.

Two players who are already signed with Hawai’i for next season are from the Southern California area – Michael Thomas from Woodland Hills, and Stefan Jovanovic, who is originally from Serbia but currently plays at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance.


Thomas and his father made a drive to Anaheim last week to visit the Warriors at the team hotel. “Not only do our players who live here get to see their family … we also get to see our future Warriors,” Arnold said.

One night after having dinner with the UH coaches, Thomas scored 17 points to lead El Camino Real High to a 60-42 win over Lincoln (San Diego). Thomas has emerged as the top player on an El Camino Real team that is 16-2 and ranked No. 16 in California by calhisports.com.

Jovanovic and Bishop Montgomery High won two games last week to improve to 19-0. MaxPreps.com has Bishop Montgomery ranked No. 3 in California and No. 8 in its national rankings.

Niko Filipovich, another Bishop Montgomery player, is also expected to join Hawai’i next season, although he has not signed a letter of intent.

A prospect for the class of 2014 who remains uncommitted is Evan Fitzner from Francis Parker High in San Diego. Numerous programs are recruiting Fitzner, and he said he has not narrowed his choices. However, it was probably a good sign that he and his father made the drive to Irvine last week to watch the Warriors play against UC Irvine.

“It was a really good game,” he said. “Hawai’i didn’t pull it out in the end, but I thought they played pretty good.”

Fitzner’s mother is Cheri Boyer Fitzner, a former Hawaii Rainbow Wahine volleyball All-American setter.

— — — — —

Below is the latest episode of DaBeast Froductions by Davis Rozitis and Isaac Fotu from the trip to Southern California last week. It features a trip to a mall that was near the team’s hotel.

Special thanks to Pacific Risk Solutions for sponsoring the road coverage for WarriorInsider.com.


  1. Excellent video coverage Dayton. Thankyou. UH has something special going, these recruits and potential recruits and families are top notch. Good stock, character , students and athletes. Plus, love the fun and enjoyment this team has on the road or at home.

    That is what we are talking about, a UH warrior basketball nation. Gib is on right track, build relationships, with underclassmen, work the Big West Cali recruiting trail benefit of playing road games. Building a good program with great kids.

    Sure, new AD wants these kind of athletes,(and to have coaches and teams have winning product on court and field) and even this year, Gib and team working hard, in terms of wins and getting people, like our gang , to come out(the games are exciting in the Stanley!), to generate revenue.

    Great report! WI.

  2. Nice interviews with Michael Thomas and Sefan Jovanovic. Great kids, look forward to their adding another great season next year, along with Dyrbe, Aaron, Keith and Caleb!

  3. Sorry, nice interview with Cheri Fitzner Boyer’s son Evan. Hope he becomes a warrior too! Great young man!

  4. I thought we had a signed LOI from Stehan. Why is his recruiting still open?

  5. Great videos. Thanks.


    That was Evan Fitzner in the second video. A 2014 recruit.

  6. Thank you for Dayton for all your hardwork.

    QUESTION: Hawaii currently has two seniors on scholarship on their roster, is this third scholarship that is being offered to Filipovich Rozitis’ scholarship because he will be graduating this Spring?

    Is Hawaii “over recruiting” – Offering more scholarships than they have at this time because a better player is out there (over a current player) or a contigency plan in case someone transfers out?

    Is Valdes under scholarship at this time?

  7. Fitzner has not signed he is in the second video. Niko has not signed either yet, just verbal.

  8. kendall,

    Those are excellent questions. Just know that , constant recruiting, or “over” is something other MBB programs do too. There is always possibility that some guys are offered as walkons. Davis, always that possibility, he is a bright guy, and is probably on schedule to graduate this May 2013?. He could pursue, post college career then.

    Maybe, Dayton will have “latest recruiting” and how many scholarship to offer update Q & A with Gib again. Either ,way, Gib and staff are going to be constantly recruiting mode, always on the look out for good guys/talent to keep program going upwards.

  9. I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, but AD Ben Jay needs to meet with Gib to work on securing Gib long term. The USC coaching vacancy scares me because Gib was an assistant there and his recruiting efforts at UH will surely get noticed by USC once they formally start their search.

    Gib is still a little inexperienced as a HC, but because of his history with USC, that’s the one school that could take a run at Gib.

    UH cannot compete with PAC 12 salaries, but that doesn’t mean UH cannot protect itself with a new extension and increased buyout.

    I still think Gib will stay for the time being because he has unfinished business with completing the rebuilding of UHBB, and he still needs to get more experience as a HC before moving to a bigger job, but if USC dangles $1.5million/yr and doesn’t have to pay UH much for the buyout, then UH is in a tough spot.

  10. Former UH Athlete,

    Points well taken. You are right though, still think Gib has to have a pretty good season, this year, say a 20 win, Big West Tourney title, NCAA or NIT invite to accomplish his goals at UH and for his resume. There are some more experienced HC’s out there that USC would offer, unless, they offer less to Gib.

    If UH does offer Gib, very flattering, still think, Gib has to get it done, a good post season bid this year 3 before, any major schools come calling. Nice, if he can graduate all of his kids from HS here before moving on. He has been a strong advocate for UH and Hawaii BB. In TV interview, Ben Jay said he sat down with ALL the UH coaches, so Ben, being very strong in the budget side and probably salary/contract extension deals, would know what to do, I am guessing.

    Hope, Gib has good year, this year, and he gets a good contract extenstion, as a younger HC in D1 and proving to be a very versatile recruitier, monetarily wise, it makes sense for UH to do what they can to keep him here for as many years as possible. I think, still the bottom line, Ben wants to see Attendance up at all sports, increase revenue, Ben trying to get UH ADept ledger balanced, will be careful on how monies spent, I am guessing.

    UHA, you are a great advocate of Gib. Hope the best, for Coach Arnold and his family and UH MBB. They are headed in the right direction, just have to close out this year in a winning and post season bound way! I see where you are coming from though, if USC dangles north of 1 million/year, for anyone, wouldn’t you take it?

  11. Thanks for the updates. Recruiting looks promising.

  12. Here comes reality time again:

    Last meeting, Pacific as an underdog, running the supposedly superior team ragged. Only saved by Jeff’s heroic dunk @ the last seconds.

    Now, the Tigers improved athletically; Even half-game ahead the Warriors in BWC record!

    Do we have the speed to run with them? Can we be effective in 1-on-1?
    Would the best BWC front-line has gotten overed from road-sickness @ home?
    Basic skills finally start to take form.. ?

    Give us a comfortable doz-pts advantage @ 2.5-mins remaining clock, OK?!

  13. n2joy,

    I think UH gets out to lead in both games, hope by now, they know how to close out games. We will be there cheering them on. Don’t want to get heart attack, if game comes down to last minute again, yet a win is a win.

    Still think, Hauns, if Hauns, you reading this, or team members, Hauns, I still think you leadership, is so vital, to team starting and finishing strong this season. That LBSU game, saw you with that spark again, You are a tri captain, you and Jace and Vander, lead the young guys, and close out games. You can do it Hauns, you are the calming mature guy on bench, in practice and on the court, have a great finish to this year, as you did, last year and in your year at JC.

  14. Big game for the Warriors,coming up thursday, we need all the student Maniacs to show up in force and make it literally MISERABLE for Pacific , yelling at their bench , raggers rail , Warriors need to show up and not let up from the start, we have a enthusiastic coach and players let’s get the game on!
    And stop bringing up his contract, winning solves that, as he has clauses in his contract for this and that , bonus’s and extension.

  15. jjay

    good points. WINNING is cure all. UH just has to bring it, they showed they could be there on the road, they are 3-0 at home, can’t let any slip away. Have to win out at SSC. We will be there. It is fun, and n2j and jjay, Hawaii has to get out to leads and hold them from beginning to end, builds confidence, and fans will not be on edge, and will prepare them to win on tough 4 game road swing coming up.

    WIN guys, helps team, UH fans , State of Hawaii, and any other perks. And put people in the seats at SSC!

  16. playhoopsa,

    You’re right, there are more experienced coaches that USC would probably target before Gib, but I would think USC would explore into GIb with his experience with their program. IMO, Gib is still a few years from being ready to be a legit upper-level coaching candidate, but if UH makes a run and wins the Big West Tourney (it is a real possibility), then Gib’s coaching stock will skyrocket in the eyes of AD’s who are looking to fill their coaching vacancy. I’m guessing that USC won’t hire a permanent coach until after the season, so if UH makes a run, Gib will probably climb up the prospect list.

    If I were the USC, my first phone call would be to Dan Monson (Long Beach St). He’s the architect that build Gonzaga and he’s made Long Beach a very good program in a fairly short time. Lots of experience. Had a bad run at Minnesota, but he was handcuffed from the start as the program was hit with probation and scholarship penalties when he got hired. Monson is a solid recruiter and has a good eye for talent… He’s already good at finding the best unheralded kids, but at USC, he’ll have access to the Top 150 recruits.

  17. playhoopsa…

    If I were a young HC at a mid-major (sorry, but we’re in a mid-major conference) and a Pac 12 school dangled $1million+ per year + incentives in front of me, I absolutely take it unless I’m walking into baggage (NCAA violations or academic penalties).

    I know Gib’s a Punahou guy, but it doesn’t take a private education to figure out $1,000,000 is better than $290,000, in addition to working with a high level budget with access to Top Recruits.

    That’s why UH needs to find a way to raise the buyout price if they are committed to Gib’s efforts on improving the program.

    Fan Attendance has been hugely dissappointing considering the improvements and the increased excitement around the program. Fotu and Jawato look like they are on their way to being rock stars at UH. So there’s really no excuse for fans not showing up. It’s not like there’s anything else going on in town that’s competing with UH. The Stevie Wonder concert would have drawn some away from UH, but that didn’t go according to plan (wink wink).

    Once Shamburger, Valdes and commit Michael Thomas enter next year’s lineup, UH will have it’s most athletic lineup in its history. I’m not joking, it looks that good for next year.

    How exciting does this sound 2013-14 starting lineup:
    Fotu, Stanhardinger, Spearman, Jawato, Shamburger
    Bench: Valdes, Thomas, Clair, Rozitis, Oz, and Dressler.

    Given the athletic ability of Valdes, Thomas, and Spearman, the starting lineup could vary widely. I like Spearman current role as a high energy 6th man, but once Vander is gone, it’ll open up the paint for him to penetrate.

    I think Gib will have to adjust the offense for next year, because I think we have more slashers next season. Like how Long Beach attacks the rim. LBSU drives hard to the paint and either kicks out to open shooters or draw the foul. The 2013-14 roster looks more like that style of offense.

    Very curious to see how a bulked up Dressler will look like after redshirting this year. He looked like a work in progress when seeing his film, but a year of working on new moves and a solid year in the weight room will pay huge dividends. Dressler will be looked upon to fill in Vanders departure. Jawato redshirting was huge for him, hopefully Dressler will reap similar benefits.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if UH loses one or two players going to next year because there aren’t enough minutes or basketballs to keep 12 legit D1 players happy. UH is deep enough to absorb any transfers so it shouldn’t be a big issue unless its the PG spot again.

  18. Former Athlete, Gibs contract is for 345k, when he finally signed it JD pumped it 100k more, so like I said ,let’s leave it be ,he is compensated well , more than any other men’s coach, attendance has to improve drastically for us to afford to pay more, win more, pay more. Win less, pay less, just business.We need some shooters and a point guard besides Shamburger, a Good Point Guard.

  19. Shamburger’s the answer, The Roop is in training and so could be the same for Ozi.

    Now it has to be, Coach only having 2 scholarships picked up a Center and Foward for 2013. That tells you something, doesn’t it? If Niko comes, he’s a walk-on and there’s no need to sign a contract of some sorts. Niko is gonna have to prove he deserves a scholarship in 2014, unless of course a player leaves early(Rozitis graduates early) or a player transferring.

    But to me that says it all with the 2 signees Gib’s got for 2013

  20. jjay, John Ursua is a good point guard, but he plays football too. Will be back from his mission in 2014 and will be on football scholarship. But, he’s a darned good point guard. Not sure if he’s going to play 2 sports, ala Ostrowski. But, Gib Arnold is well aware of his talents.

  21. Yeah, I saw it was $294k with the boosters kicking in $50k… i wasn’t sure if it was $50k on top of the $294k or if the $50k was being contributed to the $294k. High paying is relative to the conference you’re comparing to. If you compare to Big West, (no football to support the athletic departments) then his pay is good, but in Mt West (which is more comparable in terms of school size and football programs), Gib’s salary is average at best.

    Wins will come. Next year is going to be much better than this year. 8 freshmen on a roster will lead to inconsistent play. Thats a fact of basketball life. On good days, UH was whooping up on Illinois (until the collapse) and how UH played its worst game vs Pepperdine. It will be up and down.

    This season is exciting because of all the new faces and we get to see them develop and gain experience. Enjoy the roller coaster because it has proven up and down.

    Next season is very exciting. All the youngsters will have major experience and a full offseason of weight training, which some really need. Vander will be the only player missed from the seniors in terms of productivity, but Rozitis is showing major improvements and Dressler is redshirting and getting stronger. With another 6’10” recruit coming in, UH can make up for Vanders departure. I actually think UH’s offense will open up a bit because Vander isn’t mobile and BW teams constantly doubling and clogging the paint… Without Vander, it opens the drive lanes for Spearman (who can get to the Tim anytime he wants vs BW guards), Valdes, Standhardinger and it also frees up space for Fotu to operate.

  22. Mahalo Dayton, Davis & Pacific Risk — Great Coverage…

    Great that MThomas (Can Tell Good Guy). SJovanovic & NFilipovic tearing up CalHiBB…

    and that Fitzner is taking the Time, making the effort (when he decides, heʻll probably have a real good understanding of what Hawaiʻi Ball is all about AND What He Can Bring to it)

    Dayton, Great that you can jump in with the growing UHMBB Family and share the insider videos with us …
    Very High Trust
    Mahalo No again

  23. Gotta watch UNLV vs San Diego St. today. That’s going to be an awesome game. One of the best home crowds in the west coast. Watch the crowd… This is what a real student section looks like.

  24. michael thomas and dad both look and sound well educated

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