Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Catching up with Aaron Valdes


The summer of success is just about over for Aaron Valdes. The key now is to keep it going as he enters his first “active” season with the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

Valdes was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Hawai’i College Basketball Summer League, and received an A in his lone summer course at UH. Not bad for a player who was not even enrolled in a college at this time last year.

“Just hard work,” he said of his improvement. “I wanted to get better myself, especially with what Coach Gib told me last year. He said to work on my shot and my dribbling. I worked really hard over the summer on that.”

Valdes is from Whittier, Calif., and instead of returning home for the current break before the start of fall classes at UH, he opted to stay and train on the UH campus.

“It’s only a week,” he noted, and added that his parents are planning a trip to visit him in Hawai’i this November.

Valdes enrolled at UH late last fall, and thus missed the entire summer of 2012. He ended up redshirting the 2012-13 season, so this summer marked his first preparation as a collegiate athlete.

“Just working out every day, getting physically ready for the preseason,” he said. “Trying to show the coaches that I stayed in shape.”

Valdes said the year of practicing with the scout team last season also played a big role in his improvement. “It helped me a lot last year, especially learning the system that Gib (Arnold) has,” Valdes said.

The 6-foot-5 wing can play multiple positions, which should help his cause for the upcoming season. He also has four seasons to improve even more with the Warriors.

— — — — — — —

The Big West Conference has posted a “Men’s Basketball Summer Preview” with notes on each of the nine teams.

Here are the notes listed for Hawai’i:

• Hawai‘i finished its first season as a Big West member with a 17-15 overall record and a fifth place showing in conference play at 10-8. The Warriors received an invite to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, hosting and losing to Air Force in the first round.

• The Warriors mix three starters with four redshirts and six newcomers to form a nucleus of a potential Big West contender.

• Senior forward Christian Standhardinger returns after a 2012-13 campaign earned him All-Big West First Team accolades. The 6-foot-8 forward was the only UH player to start all 32 games, averaging 15.8 points and 7.9 rebounds. Among the Big West leaders, he ranked seventh in scoring and fourth in rebounding. Standhardinger also ranked seventh in the league in field goal percentage (.510) and was fourth in double-doubles (9).

• Isaac Fotu pairs with Standhardinger to create one of the top frontcourt duos in the Big West. A 6-foot-8 forward, Fotu earned Big West Co-Freshman of the Year honors with averages of 10.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and a .623 (127 of 204) field goal percentage. Fotu led the Big West in field goal percentage (.635) through 18 conference games, successful on 73 of his 115 attempts.

• UH brings back one additional starter in 6-3 senior guard Brandon Spearman. He averaged 9.6 points and 1.1 steals per game as a starter in 17 of the 27 games he played in.

• The Warriors also bolstered their backcourt with the addition of San Jose State transfer Keith Shamburger. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Shamburger brings key experience to UH as a two-year starter with the Spartans. He averaged 13.1 points per game and collected 155 assists in 2011-12.

• The diversity of UH’s roster will be on display once again as six foreign countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, Latvia, New Zealand and Serbia) will be represented as well as players from four states (California, Hawai‘i, Illinois and Washington).



  1. Dayton,

    On behalf of a legion of local and global UH MBB fans, thankyou so very much, for very in depth, and great interviews and coverage of all the UH athletes.

    What impresses me, and it does speak well of coach Gib and staff, they sat down with all the players, here and those that chose to move on, and addressed what they had to work on to keep program and success moving forward, Upwards.

    Aaron Valdes, Airon, member of the great TribeV Ohana, really looks like a transformed basketball player. His RS year, and this summer, he worked super hard and it shows. I know that Aaron, if he keeps working hard, and brings a super confident attitude will help team tremendously at the 3 spot. That is the key position that has to produce on Offense and Defense, along with another player added, and hopefully a stronger, and athletic Michael Thomas, look for some high flying and fun antics by a winning UH BB team this year.

    Mahalo Airon Valdes!

    Aloha to TribeV and family , thanks for your son being a part of UH MBB team!


  2. Aaron, Tribe V, Thanks for Choosing to Grow & Succeed @ UH!

    Congratulations on Well-Deserved Summer MOP Award — Good Grades All-Around, Leading Contender for Gibʻs Scholarship Award; Likely Also Overall Most Improved Player… IF Most of the Team improved 1/3rd as much, they should be Great to Watch and Win ! BTW –i think redshirt year gaining a yearʻs progress towards degree and learning the schoolʻs and coachesʻ system is smart. AVV, Shamburger and Dressler arree the immediate injrrcttion ssollution

  3. AV, Shamburger and Dressler are the immediate injection solution to losing and (ideally, expectantly) improving upon last yearʻs seniors…

    AV and Team, Have a Great Breakout Season to Remember…

  4. Hey Airon,

    After we learned the number of inches of your vertical-reach (Airon elbow-over-the-ream-dunk); Saw how impressive your over-all game performance in highlight video >>
    ~1. Fan-base numbers multiplied many-fold.
    ~2. Suffered with you on the delay of your NCAA academic clearance.
    ~3. Happy on your wisdom in handling personal set-back confronted.
    ~4. Liked your persistence in focus with Gib-System Guidance provided.
    ~5. Disappointed that fan’s UHMBB immediate gratification to be postponed.
    ~6. You took advantage of a RS-year into a chance for an all-out improvements.
    ~7. “Action Speaks Louder” translated into “Personal Progression” this Summer: MOP; “A”-happy {If you minimize turn-over, further endurances.. Who knows what your PT will be? What you can help the TEAM to excelled? (yours as well), this season, next.. your entire career with UHMBB. Your proud parents might became a permanent Hawaii residence. WOW!}.

    PS: Future recruits, follow the leader who set precedence, high-standard for UHMBB – secure your offer ASAP for the “Opportunity of Your Lifetime”.

  5. Aaron, great work, off the court and in the classroom! Great that you received an A for your course. As well as MIchael Thomas’s A’s for his classes too. Hope the whole UH MBB team did well in summer school, so important to use that session to catch up and get into a great academic mode!

    Aaron have a great year!

    Dayton: ( and Aaron or Tribe V) Is Aaron 6’5″ tall or 6’6″ plus. I know with his, now probably close to 40″ vertical leap, and he being a quick jumper, he probably is playing like a guy who is 2 inches taller.

    Just curious: maybe Aaron is 6’5 3/4″ tall. Certainly, at least 210-215 pound of nice solid muscle mass, with little body fat.
    Could envision, Aaron running the point, playing 2 guard, SF, and an athletic PF. If need be even guard the opposition center. Aaron’s quickness, hops and Defensive prowess will hell Gib and team right away. The added bonus, if Aaron, can contribute offense, which I believe he will! Will be fun to watch, potentially 3 hard nosed , active SF’s, getting after it , full court, traps, or man to man, match up zone, on Defense, then…leads to the leak outs and dunks for Aaron, Michael T., and others!

    Go Rainbow Warriors!

  6. sorry, ” will HELP Gib and team right away. Correction on spelling to above post!

    Go Aaron and hope you and the whole team have great pre season workouts, and fantastic 2013-14 season.!!

    Go Rainbow Warriors.


  7. Great work Aaron – I am looking forward to seeing you play – I am sure all your hard work will pay off as well.

    TribeV – you should be very proud of your son – by all accounts that I hear – he is a great kid – and smart too!!!

  8. I think Valdes’ redshirting last season will pay huge dividends this year and beyond. We saw a glimpse of a more complete offensive player in summer league, now its keeping the momentum going once the season starts and opponents are playing real defense.

    This is definitely the most exciting UH roster in quite some time. It gets even better next season when NWC is ready to go. I’m smelling NCAA tourney in UH’s near future. That’s definitely no exaggeration.

  9. As our most-valued transferee Negus Webster-Chan explicitly stated that “Family Over Everything”!
    The value of an ideal family influence upon its off-spring, can never be over-emphasized, has long been persuaded by educators/scholars (now, Coach Gib).

    Smart parents raised smart kids, has never been this heart-warming, inferring the current UHMBB Ohana!

    Especially outstanding, are the ones that having an Akamai Mom/Mum.

  10. n2o4joy:

    Really to Gib Arnold, and a solid, together for about 4 years, they redirected their recruiting objectives. Establish contacts, relationships with athletes from 9th or 10th grade, in USA, Polynesia, Asia?, and Globally. Aaron V, great story about to unfold. Stefan, and Caleb, two bigs, who can get Big and win big, Quincy and Garrett, immediately athelticism and speed at PG and SG, combo, plus the tandem of Isaac and Christian, the team, looks, 2 deep at every position,.Being that UH is playing in a winnable BWC conference, as well as a competitive, DHC, at Mizzou, NMSU here at SSC and RC to start season, Should be fun!

    Without a doubt all the Mums of the guys , maybe 17 or 18 on team, love it, that theri progeny are doing well in the great state of Hawaii.We have our own trials and tribulations, living on an island dependent on imports of goods, however WE UH MBB fans, appreciate the imports of great young student athletes from USA, and globally!

    .Probably what Gib wanted to do, first 2 years, however, scramble and gamble recruits. Now, by year 4, Gib has established great connection, relationships, and n2o4joy, you are correct, a lot of the young men, are close to their mom/mums, making sure that their young sons are taken cared of, by UH, the coaches, alumni and fans.And, dads like Tribe V and Tonganator. Mum and dad like the Fitzners!

    The NWC writeup, and his journey from Toronto Canada to Mizzou to Manoa, awesome story, and hopefully he will be Eighth UH MBB player to play in the NBA with , probably some surprise recruits current and new, who with hard work could make it too. Or high Euro leagues. Great money, and they can raise families and have their kids come to UH MBB program several years down the line!

    It amazes me, the type of kid coming to Hawaii MBB program now, they know it is a conference they can compete in , and WIN, as well as help put UH MBB on that top 30 or 35 NCAA team rankings. NCAA’s possibly, a bunch.

    Thankyou to Tribe V, Tonganator, Aussie Mum, the Webster-Chan, Rozitis, Standhardinger, ohana-families for sharing your son’s talents with UH MBB. To the top! NCAA here we come!

    Go Rainbow Warriors!

  11. Tentative Roster: 2013-14

    PG’s: Keith Shamburger, Quincy Smith, Dyrbe Enos,Niko Filopovich

    SG’s: Brandon Spearman, Garrett Nevels, Brandon Jawato(health permitting), Michael Harper.

    SF’s: Aaron Valdes, Michael Thomas, Jack Hackman

    PF’s: Christian Standhardinger, Isaac Fotu,

    C: Davis Rozitis, Caleb Dressler, Stefan Jovanovich

    Defense can be taught, athleticism, something you might be born with, offense can be created off of solid Defense. Run gun, and have fun. However, I would go with Keith, Brandon S., Aaron V., Christian, Isaac, Davis, Caleb, ,Brandon Jawato , if healthy, the in system as RS last year or returning active players, to help win the games at beginning of season.

    I really believe, Gib will open up all 5 positions , up for grabs, who plays in system, cherish the ball, play smart, hard together, and play , stop the 3, stop penetration, get O and D rebounds and 50-50 ball, as starters and first 4 or 5 off the bench, Great incentive for whole team new and older guys to work towards, and when every one buys into their roles, whether 5 min or 35 min a game, UH will have a good run, NCAA this year? Maybe!

    Go Rainbow Warriors!

  12. Hope Christian and Davis made it back to Manoa by now.

  13. Iʻd presume one or two could be due in as late as Friday or Saturday…

    Would be Great to Get the Confirmation, “ALL Here…”

    (Maybe No Late Starts this year…)

  14. The two question marks this year are Shamburger and Valdez. If they come up aces—that is play to their potential—a 20 plus win season is doable. The point and wing were the positions that we hurt most last year. Now I think we have filled those gaps along with the quality of bench play.

  15. Akamai – intelligent, smart, clever!!! I like it!!!

  16. Thank you all for the kind words about Aaron and our family as well. Aaron loves it in Hawaii as well as everything about it. Like us, he’s real excited about the team especially the next few years.

    Playhoopsa, you will have to wait until the team sizes Aaron up to get your answers. All I know is that his arms are long and he is taller than me. 🙂

    Aussie Mum, thank you for your kind words about Aaron. We enjoyed meeting Mike last year. He is a nice young man, Great job.. We were excited to see him finally make it in to Hawaii and play in the Summer League. We look forward to seeing him on the court this year as well

    We are big fans of the basketball program, the players and coaching staff. We have been able to witness several of the guys play before heading to Hawaii and knowing what they are all capable of has us real excited for this team. UH fans should be in or a real treat once everyone is on board.

    God Bless and Thanks again

  17. Apologies Aussie Mum, big time! On my list of depth chart, position by position, there is , and I am not joking, an X factor spot, that being one…Thunder From Down Under!

    Michael Harper, great, awesome student, smart BB player, hustle and no fear. He will be the guy when Gib calls his number, either on the road or at home, or maybe NIT or NCAA tournament to make the play to help UH win the game. Every team, needs a solid TEAM player, and super good young man like Michael Harper.

    Haven’t seen him do it yet…he probably is waiting for the right time and game, when he throws a leftie atomic hydrosonic, supersonic, fly sy slamma jamma dunkenstein, from the land down under..and you know what Aussie Mum, the Stan Sheriff Arena will go nuts!!

    Either way, congratulaions to The Harpers Mr and Mrs, and progeny for a great young man in Michael H.,
    Gib, would want to have 15 of those types, with academic and athletic attitude like Michael Harper, the Thunder From Down Under!!

    As you can see, Aussie Mum, school , fall semester begins next week Mon Aug 26 2013, and UH academic and athletic year will be in full swing! Can’t wait!

    Go Rainbow Warriors(lot of history behind the Rainbow name, the name of all UH sports teams for decades).

    Awesome, Go UH MBB!!

  18. Playhoopsa – you put a smile on my face and make me laugh!!

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