Future Warrior Avea helps lead Kahuku to upset win
Before Samuta Avea can help lead the University of Hawai’i basketball team to victories next year, he’ll be busy helping Kahuku High School win a lot this season.
Avea, who signed a National Letter of Intent with Hawai’i last month, is a 6-foot-6 senior guard/forward for the Red Raiders. He played a key supporting role in Kahuku’s 60-54 upset of Mount Vernon of New York in the opening round of the ‘Iolani Classic on Saturday night.
“It was great, not a lot of Hawai’i teams get to go up against this kind of competition,” Avea said. “We went in with a chip on our shoulder and got it done.”
Avea had an off-shooting night, finishing with just four points. However, he contributed a game-high 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, and played post defense for most of the game against the taller Mount Vernon squad. Avea said an off-season ankle injury has slowed his recent progress, but he expects to be at full strength soon. Mount Vernon is considered one of the top high school basketball programs in New York.
“It’s never been done – Kahuku’s never won a (basketball) state championship,” he said. “We’ll try to be the first to do it.”
Avea is in his “return” season at Kahuku after attending Bingham High in Utah as a junior last season. He said he lived with relatives in Utah last year, and his plan to expand his game and receive more exposure worked.
Prior to committing to Hawai’i, he was also considering offers from UC Santa Barbara, Utah State, Weber State and Wyoming. He said Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot and staff had already started the recruiting process prior to his year in Utah.
“We just kept in contact my entire time up at Utah,” Avea said. “The connection between me and the coaches stayed strong throughout the whole process.”
Avea is mostly playing as a forward at Kahuku, but could play either guard or forward on the next level next season.
“Really just a combo guard, slasher, just looking to develop my game and get a more consistent shot,” he said of his potential role at UH. “Work with Ganot in what ever he wants to put me at.”
For now, he is focused on leading a Kahuku team that has several other University of Hawai’i ties.
Former UH assistant coach Brandyn Akana is now Kahuku’s head coach. His nephew, Jessiya Villa, is in his first year at Kahuku after an all-state junior season in West Virginia last year. Villa, Kahuku’s senior point guard, had 27 points and six assists in the win over Mount Vernon. Daniel Fotu, the younger brother of former UH standout forward Isaac Fotu, recently transferred to Kahuku. The 6-8 junior forward scored 12 points – including the go-ahead basket on a putback dunk – against Mount Vernon.
(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)
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