Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Aloha ‘Oe Fotu


One of the most captivating – and talented – careers for a University of Hawai’i basketball player came to a premature end, as forward Isaac Fotu has announced that he is withdrawing from school to pursue a professional career.

He departed Honolulu on Monday, and is currently in California to meet with a potential agent. Fotu is from New Zealand, and several pro teams there have previously offered him contracts. His mother, Jenny, is originally from England, so Isaac could qualify for citizenship status there if he opts for a European team.

But as his father, Manu, said: “Isaac’s dream is to play in the NBA, and now he can chase that dream. But he has open options and we will look at all the options.”

Fotu was the Big West Conference co-Freshman of the Year in 2013, and then made the All-Big West first team as a sophomore last season. He scored 462 points in 31 games last season, setting a UH record for most points by a sophomore player.

He also closes his UH career with a field goal percentage of .599, which shatters the previous school record of .562 (Erin Galloway).


He wowed fans and frustrated opponents with his spin moves to the basket, but he also possessed a smooth jump shot that he extended beyond 3-point range for this season.

Mostly, though, he will be remembered for his unique style, which included big hair and a small ego. His jersey number was always easy to recall because 42 matched his Tongan surname – Fotu, Four Two.

He also adapted quickly to Hawai’i’s culture, often greeting people with a playful “Wassup Brah!” His fondness for poke bowls took on a life of its own on social media.

Simply put, he will be missed.

The first statement below is from Isaac; the second statement is from his parents.

— — — — —

After much thought and discussions with my family, I have decided to forgo my last 2 years at UH, and pursue a professional basketball career.

This was not an easy decision. I came to Hawaii to play for coach Gib and coach Akana, both were instrumental in me growing as both a person and basketball player. I believe this was going to best season yet.

I’ve turned down opportunities to turned pro every summer because returning to Hawaii was an easy decision, but now, with the program headed in a different direction, I believe it’s time to chase the professional basketball dream, and hopefully help support my family.

In regards to my ineligibility announced last week, which by the way had no bearing on my decision, I have hired an attorney to help clear my name, if and / or when any accusations are released by the NCAA.

I thank all my teammates (brothers) at UH, and mostly the fans of Rainbow Warrior basketball. The people of Hawaii have welcomed me since the day I arrived, and all that aloha made my stay enjoyable. I enjoyed every minute I got to represent the University of Hawaii and I will look back at many wonderful memories.

Aloha oe, until we meet again!

Isaac Fotu

— — — — —

This is very emotional for me and my family because we got to know so many people in Hawaii, so many fans, and we know how much this team means to them. Isaac was treated very well there, and Hawaii will always hold a place in our hearts as a family.

When Isaac first called home and said he is ineligible, we had so many questions. He didn’t get any answers from anybody and we felt like nobody could help us. We didn’t want to take the chance of him sitting on the sidelines and this thing dragging on and missing all the games. That would not be good for him or the team. We didn’t want to take that risk.

This was very, very difficult, and it really hurts my whole family that Isaac is leaving a place that was so great for him. It was always a priority with me for my kids to finish school with a degree, and I still want Isaac to get his degree because he is so close. Maybe that will be his reason to return to Hawaii some day.

The best thing everybody can do now is support the team. Even though Isaac is no longer there, we will still check on the team every day and support from here. We feel like we are a part of Hawaii and we thank everyone who made it so special for Isaac.

Manu and Jenny Fotu


  1. Sad to see Fotu go. Sorry it ended like this.

    Still hope he makes NBA someday, so hoping he continues his steep improvement that he showed these last 2 years.

  2. A real treasure watching Fotu grow his game. Some guys you know will be in NBA the first time you see them, and their talent is impressive. But it’s something else watching a guy build himself up to an NBA level. When Fotu first got here, nobody thought he was going to be NBA. Even now, he’s a longshot.

    But this year we could have watched him add a 3 point shot. And maybe later we could have watched him add some defensive smarts. That would have been something to watch a guy develop a pro tier game, rather than come with it immediately, and you don’t get many chances for that in Hawaii.

    Hope he works on his defense. But hey not many guys know how to play defense when they first get to the NBA.

  3. We’ve seen NBA players before, for instance the Lakers with Kobe Bryant used to play preseason games here. Anthony Carter played in the NBA a long time.

    But they came to Hawaii as fully-developed stars. It’s something different to watch a freshman out of nowhere (try to find a scouting service that ranks him for the NBA) get to that cusp.

    So thanks Fotu.

    Damn all these onions. Look at me getting all RunBows over here.

  4. Thank you for your letters, Isaac and parents. Besides being a great basketball player, he has such a pleasant personality and disposition. Looks like his career FG percentage is a UH record. Big West Freshman of the Year, All-Conference last year and pre-season All-Conference this year. Hope he can find some poke bowls .

  5. Sad times. I really think that Fotu leaving the team will be what people remember the most from all of this NCAA mess. What makes it worst is that he was finally going to be the go-to guy. Hey, “Go-To Fotu!” that could of been a chant in the arena. I predict his numbers would of been 23 points and 8 rebounds a game.

    Time to move on now. As the Valdes Ohana and Fotu Ohana states to all the true fans just keep supporting the team.

    I notice on here and other comments nobody is really mad at Fotu. Everybody really loves this guy!

    It just shows again that the bumblers and fumblers at UH fumbled away something else and this one was very valuable. Shame on UH again!

  6. As I read these letters again it just gets me even more mad that Isaac and his family could not get any information from UH and only told that he is ineligible. If my kids were treated that way in a foreign country, I would get them the heck out of there as well.

    Good luck Isaac and Tonganator and family and thank you for the wonderful two years!

  7. Best to Issac Fotu and his family. Very admirable people after reading their statements.

  8. Yes, ChuckCheese UH blundered big time. Leaders or really non leaders that maybe puppets in reality leading the athletic department.

  9. Thanks for the exciting 2 years. You guys are awesome! Good luck to the Fotu Ohana.

  10. So who is going to take over DaBeast and DaFro productions? :,(

  11. Good luck to Isaac and family. Sorry to see it end this way.

  12. Mahalo. and Thankyou Isaac and the Fotu Ohana. Wish you well, and.. please come back and eat Poke Bowls, all you want!!
    Tonganator, our hearts are always with you and your family.. Go The Mighty Warrior, and Fotu Family stay strong.

    Never able to meet in person, however, Know by WI MBB video, Isaac is great person, son and student athlete…

    Because, of Dayton’s video and coverage of Isaac’s Career..
    POSITIVE MBB ZONE… Nothing but love for UH MBB and the FOTU’s

    Go Rainbow Warriors, stand up and step up, for your brother Isaac Fotu !!

  13. Ferd Lewis’ article today pretty much confirms my suspicions that Arnold’s firing was more upper campus schenanigans than the seriousness of the yet-to-be-alleged infractions. Ferd essentially singled out the power players behind this. The only person missing on his list is President Lassner.

    Also, given that Ben Jay negotiated, agreed to, signed, and delivered Gib’s contract extension to ex-Chancellor’s Apple’s desk, he does not deserve as much blame for the handling of Gib’s firing, other than allowing Gib to be thrown under the bus without lifting a finger to defend his coach.

    I can’t blame Ben Jay for playing “good little soldier” because the regime that hired him are all gone and he figures he might be next if he doesn’t step aside and let UH leadership impose their ill-will.

    If I were in Ben Jay’s shoes, I’d have my agent take a look at available AD openings and big school associate AD openings and abandon ship before Lassner, Bley-Vroman, the BOR, and other power brokers turn UH Athletics into the Titanic or the Hindenburg and wipe out his reputation with it.

  14. Aww… Getting moderated for a non-offensive comment is no fun.

    It was about being less harsh on Ben Jay, because this debacle is looking more like it is being orchestrated by his superiors.

  15. FUHA, did you have more than one posting link or any in your moderated comment ?

    Just asking, because awhile ago, i had a post under moderation and it had two links.

    RunBows said he has had a few comments under moderation in the past, he wasn’t sure why and they never get unmoderated. It could be an automatic moderation thing.

  16. FUHA and islandman: agreed, I think it is auto program, sometimes the amount and times I have posted, or so soon after.. one post, then another etc. And the auto system moderates and kicks it out. Dayton, I am sure is not doing a 24/7 real time, reading all of our posts. However he does check, and maybe staff, if things need be okay.. Don’t think it was a slight.. FUHA, your comments, and view, greatly appreciated, Hey MBB stay Positive right ? for team and program and UH, we want All parties to be set and pono.

  17. No links in the comment that is being moderated…

  18. First unit at today’s practice appears to be Bobbitt, Nevels, Negus, Thomas & Jovanovic. Quincy and Fleming are the first subs. Aaron has a tweaked ankle and sat out practice, per McInnis.

  19. As talented as Fotu is he never brought a championship to Hawaii. He will be missed this year but he never did take Hawaii to the promise land (NCAA tournament) to which in my opinion gains immortality for example Colt Brennan.

  20. Dear Fotu, Tonganator and Family,
    Thank you for giving us 2 great years. Your warm spirit was felt throughout the islands. We enjoyed theme Fro nights and the sayings of “Fear the Fro!” I enjoyed your quiet smile and your large laugh when you were enjoying your brotherhood with the men of UH bball.

    Greatness comes from a solid foundation. Tonganator – thank you for sharing your words with us. Your family and your comments will be missed. Christmas will not be the same without the Tonganator Ohana in the stands. Take care of yourselves.

    The Schmidt family

  21. Interesting comparison, but may be not a fair one. Brennan was a three-year starter who took UH to the Sugar Bowl in his third (senior) year. We’ll never know if Fotu could have led UH to the NCAA tournament this season (in his third year).
    Anyway, wish Isaac the best in his pursuit of a professional career, and mahalo to Tonganator and the Fotu family for sharing Isaac with us the past two years.

  22. Former UH Athlete,

    In regards to comment moderation, it is an automated system. When the system senses a potential “spam” comment, it sends it to a holding tank where I have to track it down and then re-send it back for posting. Sometimes I can get to it right away, but other times (such as yours) other priorities get in the way so it takes me a little longer.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly how the system works or what words or phrases it flags before sending to moderation. As RunBows stated, sometimes comments with multiple links get flagged. I honestly don’t see anything in your comment (which is now posted) which might have got flagged.

    My apologies on the late retrieval and thank you for your continued participation.

  23. Mahalo Dayton!

    Sounds like the system is a mystery as it allows posting links to 3rd party website no problem (never tried multiple links in a post yet).

  24. FUHA: Still don’t know if wrong or right for dismissal, that is where I will always be up in the air as to what did Gib and Akana do, to warrant the quick release without cause? Unless, this NCAA thing, ever revealed, it is dozens of minor infractions, and NCAA, was just going to sit someone down, or make amends, I mean totally fixable.?
    The names, the honor the reputation and future employ affects the 3 guys that are not with team. Sammis, is really interesting case, to keep his academics up and in school to transfer, he sees the guys all the time.. so ..I don’t know. wish him well.. if he ever reconsidered, that would be something.

    Yes, it is so clear, so self evident, Ben is a pawn, someone pulling his strings like a puppet. Man, you are right, Ben , the higher ups, when Donovan, Ben, or even in the past Stan, did not have support.. wow.. things happen.
    I really hope so much, Ben, Gib, Akana, And Isaac Fotu, all clear themselves. get restored, and given due respect or support always.. Politics. same thing in Athletics.. a lot of Politics.. New Governor, should clean house too.
    AND the best scenario… don’t hurt these 14 current guys, support and vindicate them.. I think everything will be cleared up, especially when TV, Radio, and Oped writers, are saying same thing about UH power 4.. you watch… this will come to a head.. and they will have to be corrected.. All we want is the best interests of the Student Athletes, first and foremost, the innocent, hard working ones in this scenario should not suffer

    Well for now.. we just wait.. However NOT WAIT.. in OUR TOTAL SUPPORT for the remaining Fantastic Fouteen and Benjy Ball !!

  25. A lot of blaming the administration here. The blame should be squarely at the foot of both Gib and Akana. If they abided by the rules, this would not be happening. BTW, 42 would be a bench player on UNLV or SDSU team. Funny how so much energy was spent on the “Rainbow” or “Warriors” nickname. Typical local style, arguing about irrelevant stuff

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