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Honors graduate Sai Tummala commits to transfer to Hawai’i

The University of Hawai’i basketball team has scored one of its most unique recruits in recent memory.

Sai Tummala, a 6-foot-6 forward, said he will transfer from Arizona State to play for the Warriors as a senior in the 2015-16 season. He will not be your ordinary transfer, and not just because he is the first basketball player to transfer to UH as a graduate student.

Tummala graduated from ASU with a degree in Biology last month, and thus will be immediately eligible to play, per NCAA rules for graduate students. And he didn’t just graduate; he graduated with honors – a perfect 4.0 grade point average as a pre-med student. In January, he passed the Medical College Admission Test, meaning he is now qualified to attend medical schools across the country.

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Before he can do that, he would like to enjoy one more season of college basketball. Enter Hawai’i and new head coach Eran Ganot.

“I decided to transfer about a month ago, so I started looking at some different schools,” Tummala said. “Once Coach Ganot got the job at Hawai’i, he hired Coach (Norm) Parrish, who used to be the head coach at the junior college I went to. He was still really close to the coaches at my junior college, so there was a connection there. Then, when I met Coach Ganot and the rest of the staff on my visit, it felt like the right fit.”

Tummala made an official visit to Hawai’i earlier this week, and committed to the Warriors a few days later.

“The players weren’t there, so I didn’t get to meet them, unfortunately,” he said. “I know they had a good team last year and almost made it to the NCAA Tournament, so I want to come in and contribute and help get the team over that hump.”

The returning players from last season’s team are on a summer break, but that allowed Tummala to spend more time with the new coaching staff. “We talked, and I found out what they want to do with this program,” he said. “It was the right fit for the kind of player I am.”

Tummala said he also made an official visit to Montana.

Tummala described himself as a “versatile” player who can play either forward position. “I can shoot, I can post up, I can handle the ball,” he said. “In terms of what Coach Ganot wants to do, I think I can contribute in a lot of ways. For me, what it comes down to is playing where ever the team needs me to help us win.”

He didn’t get much of a chance during his two seasons at Arizona State. As a junior last season, he appeared briefly in just 14 games and scored a total of 14 points. Head coach Herb Sendek was fired after the season, and Tummala took it as a cue to transfer.

“I was just looking for a change and a fresh opportunity for me to contribute somewhere,” Tummala said.

During the 2012-13 season, Tummala averaged 14.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game at Salt Lake Community College, and chose Arizona State over Nebraska, BYU, Georgia, and Minnesota, among others.

Although he is qualified to apply for medical schools, Tummala said those plans will be put on hold for at least one year. He eventually wants to get into the field of orthopedics, but also has a desire to play basketball.

“School has been really big for me the last four years,” he said. “It’s been a lot of pressure to do what I needed to do because I knew from the start that I wanted to get into medical school. But I can’t start medical school while I’m playing – I don’t think it’s even possible to do that – so I’m going to put everything I have into basketball for a year and see how that goes.”

Tummala will enroll in graduate courses in his field while attending UH. “Medical school will come some time down the line, and I’ll definitely apply to Hawai’i,” he said.

Tummala said he plans to arrive in Hawai’i sometime in July, after he does something else unique. He will travel to India later this month to work with young students there through an organization called Crossover Basketball.

“We use basketball as a tool to promote education and keep the kids in school,” he said.

Tummala was raised in Arizona, but his parents are both from India.

He said he expects to sign an official transfer letter with UH sometime this weekend.

Here is an interview video featuring Tummala from July 2014:

23 Comments

  1. Welcome Sai ! Help UH MBB team get to the NCAA tournament ! That is the goal !
    The returnees are great guys, and will fight with you, they have been there, seen every adversity and overcame.
    Wish UH MBB nothing but the best.
    For past and present and future student athletes and staff. Peace and stability and Resolution, so everyone is happy. Main thing !!

    UHF
    🙂
    shout out to rich heritage of UH MBB for over 50 years, great coaches and teams !!

  2. Thanks for the insights,Dayton. Diversity here, Uhf1.

  3. Still believe a true 4 or 5 is on the list

  4. And Needed…

    Welcome Sai
    Hope You Improve and SAVE Many Lives in your Career

    Basketball Math-Wise;
    Maybe Sai Can Replace 1/4 to 1/3 (Or More!) of a Sammis (Four/Five) Season in Minutes, Productivity And IMPACT…

    Agree; Need A Strong 4/5 and a Replacement All-Night Shooter for Negus

  5. Wow, thanks for this background info. I did not know a lot of this stuff before so now I think this guy is better than I thought for his school work and plans for the future. I still not sure how much of a factor he can be on court, but like I said before that will be a bonus. Kids like this are a great addition to any program. Aloha and welcome Sai!

  6. 4.0 GPA while playing D1 basketball for two years? That’s impressive! Hopefully his strong academic work ethic will rub off on the returnees.

  7. ^^^ This. Not like he was majoring in PE either. Biology major ain’t no joke.

  8. Yes, islandman, Really you can see the Eran Plan, create a St Mary’s, yet better academically, type of MBB program.. academics and character , even if one and dones first before wins.. get the foundation..

    great, Sai of Indian lineage, and he is really athletic, however primarily Academically sound. Still think, Eran, he is quiet , But Effective, the challenge of APR, .. that APR, keeping it in good stead, is more damaging then manini type of stuff alleged by ncaa. U. Conn got hit with one year post season ban for letting APR slip.. they came back off that probation year and Won The National Championship !

    I bet, we all going to feel, if Sai ends up being a starter and really helps UH to win BWC tournament, we will go , darn, wish he were here for 2 or 3 years. !

    Agree with Hawaiianfan09 and Eagle, the Last 2 OR 3 scholies available for this season, it doesn’t have to be, .. would be nice, from wherever, USA late, or Aus, Senegal, France , NZ, a 4 or 5 .. 6’8″ to 6’11” 245 banger and rim protector.. especially if UH gets into NCAA tournament, you need at Least 2 or 3 bangers against physical , rebounding teams.. that would be the Achilles heel for UH, if they have all 3 point shooters, or mid range, and in the Post, they were weak…

  9. Really different vibe, to KHON sports report on UH summer camp first one.. I think I saw a couple dozen boys..the past 5 years, it was a mixture of boys and girls, .. I wonder if economics, or just change in everything, new guys, new staff.. maybe a little of both.

    the youth, gals and guys, had a lot of fun last couple of summers.. virtual turn away attendance, many signed up for earlier camps in June..nice to see Spearman, Zane, and Dyrbe giving back.
    That is where you develop Hawaii Youth, from 6 years old or so, get them locked into Only basketball, like Geremey Robinsons, BB camps and Academy, then in 12 years or so, it produces legitimate DI NCAA talent gals and guys from Hawaii… I know Hawaii, with DIVERSITY.. islandman.
    🙂
    with population growing and transfers into Hawaii schools, there will be taller 3, 4 and probably 5’s, developing.. so would have to have Big Man camps. I think that is what Eran and Geremey mentioned too.. develop the youth.
    Still in a daze with past 10 months.. a great year. by BT and the Bows.. and whoosh, it is gone, and forgotten.. sad…well, new staff. just win 30 games and go NCAA tournament, get ranked top 25, .. All Hawaii, fans of either regimes, will be cheering on whomever is still with team. I hope, they make it to the tourney NCAA for first time in 14 or 15 Years? That would make everybody happy !

    UHF.
    🙂

  10. No word from Zach, Brocke, or reaction from Janks yet? I wonder, and Isaac agent Zero? We wait and see July 2nd summer UH session..
    otherwise, Eran, go get some Tall Bigs.. who can play and take up space..
    Wonder why, with the athleticism of Sai, he had virtually NO playing time at ASU? I think ASU is where Bo Barnes and Gerry Blakes were, so Sai must know them, and coaching change there too.. think the ASU coach was let go.

  11. Add’l info, from SA warrior world blog : Sai says Eran really knows his x’s and o’s. Sai likes the pick and pop and his coach at Salt Lake said he’s a pick and pop guy first, as Horssssse mentioned.

    Sai was on the Salt Lake CC team with Gary Payton II (OSU) and Skyler Halford of BYU [ who led the WCC in 3 pt % 48.1 all games; (52.2 in conf.) ]

    Only 4 lbs at birth, per his CC bio page.

  12. I’ve been through the clinic with my nephew a few years ago The boys always outnumbered the girls and attendance has dropped over a period of time Never was over crowded. There are other clinics going on through the summer done are cheaper and some are more expensive. Parents have to pick and choose which one will have more skills training rather than just scrimmaging. The price is reasonable for UH clinics. The timing is important due to summer school and other camps. There is a $400 plus camp at Kalani put on by a Maui coach bringing in some mainland college coaches to run this camp for couple days. Who they are or where they’re from was not mentioned. Ganot has a staff that has coaches who are good player development coaches. So with more time to prepare for next summer I look for a bigger and even more skills camp to grow.

  13. fun already put together fantasy starters and off the bench ?
    why not?
    First Unit:
    PG: Rod Bobbitt
    SG: Aaron Valdes(if the guy has 38% or better 3 point accuracy this year, better handles and can create off the dribble)
    SF: Sai Tammala 6’7″ 220(varies on sites what his size is, he is athletic though, rim level game, good 3 ball shooter, )
    PF: Mike Thomas 6’8″ 225(hope he grows, he says he can peak at 6’9″ )
    C/hybrid: Stefan Jankovich 6’11” 245(hope he gets stronger, and focused)

    Second Unit:
    PG: Quincy Smith
    SG: Niko Filopovich
    SF: Bryce Canda
    PF: New Recruit Big, Zach Buscher
    C: Stefan Jovanovich

    Reserve: Brocke Stepteau, and ?New Recruit big, or same size as Sai?
    Of course , Eran and staff, very sure at least One or Two more guys with height who can play post and shoot 3 ball, seems like the type of bigs he likes.. which is okay, they HAVE TO REBOUND if shots not falling, and Defend better and bigger teams..

    Go Bows !
    UHF.
    🙂
    summer league soon here.. Should guys play or stay injury free and workout on their own?

  14. Sorry Sai TUMMALA.. he very very above rim athlete.. good, and pick and pop, so he can shoot it, so can Bryce, translate to Big West, and out of conference I hope so.. same thing. cannot just rely on 2 guys being hot, Bobbitt, Quincy, Valdes, Thomas, Janks, have to hit 3 balls with accuracy and consistency too.
    🙂

  15. You forgot Fleming & Dyrbe.

  16. Sai has a good skill set. I don’t know why the dude did not get minutes at ASU.

    Guy was also recruited by BYU before signing with ASU so you know he was courted by at least a couple of big name schools. Check out some of his highlights at SLCC. I didn’t see him tripping over his own foot or making himself look like a complete scrub. Kid got potential to help big time IMHO.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I44nsJjmJAQ

  17. Uh fan sorry to tell you this but I have never seen Valdez take someone off the dribble. Flemings on the other hand has and can. You may want to re evaluate your starting 5. In the point will be Bobbit. Shooting guard will be Flemmings unless Q figures out his shot over the offseason. The 3 spot will be Valdez starting. The four spot will be Thomas. The 5 spot will be Jankovic. None of the positions will be set in stone so the guy will have to work for it!!! Everyone will get minutes because we will be playing an uptempo game like last year.

  18. IMHO, Tummala fits in well with Ganot’s system. I can see him and Thomas being used similar to how Beau Levesque (6-7, 220) was used at St. Mary’s as their stretch 4. We played them two seasons ago and he hit a couple of three-pointers against us. If I recall correctly, they had a 3 guard, 2 forward lineup with the big man (Waldow) doing his damage in the post.

    Assuming the rest of the team is coming back, the rotation seems pretty set unless we are able to bring in an impact player prior to the start of the Fall semester.

    3 Backcourt: Rod Bobbit (Senior), Aaron Valdes (Junior), Isaac Fleming (Sophomore), Bryce Canda (Junior), Quincy Smith (Senior), Niko Filipovich (Sophomore)
    2 Frontcourt: Stefan Jankovic (Senior), Mike Thomas (Junior), Sai Tummala (Senior), Stefan Jovanovich (Junior)

    If there are no impact players that we can realistically get, for the last two scholarships, I’d either save them for next year or go with a HS big man that we can redshirt and develop or a D1 transfer. We were young before but now we’ve got a lot of upperclassmen so it would be nice to balance out the classes unless we’re getting back to the JC recruiting approach.

  19. with his Q&A interview sai seems to be really confident and is getting me excited with what he says he can do…we could be getting a steal of a player…like he said never getting a good chance to play and was probably in the right place but at the wrong time…now he’ll get the chance for action

  20. Dunkin: Jankovic will be a junior.
    .

  21. Welcome to Hawaii Sai. What I love about him is he took care of business workes hard in the classroom studying for 4 years and Graduated. Now all his focus on basketball I think can really help the team next year. Betta watch out

  22. Welcome bruddah Sai. Looking forward to having all the guys show up for second summer session.

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