Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

New Warriors adjusting to D-I level

“Athletic” seems to be the catchword used to generally describe the incoming rookies on the 2017-18 University of Hawai’i basketball team.

The four scholarship newcomers for this season are Samuta Avea, Justin Hemsley, Jaaron Stallworth and Brandon Thomas.

Avea (Kahuku High School) and Justin Hemsley (Damien High School in California) are true freshmen; Stallworth (Yuba College in Arizona) and Thomas (Riverside City College) are sophomores who transferred from junior colleges.

“It was really good,” Avea said of the team’s first few practices. “Coming up to (the first practice), we were all excited and ready. It’s one step closer to the season. We’re going longer (in practices) and more competitive drills, so it’s good.”

Hemsley added: “College basketball is a lot faster than high school. In high school you could get away with a lot more things when it comes to hustling and stuff like that. Here, the coaches expect the most, you have to move on point. It’s definitely a big step coming from high school and jumping to college basketball, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

Stallworth’s summer/preseason training was slowed by a knee injury, but he is now working his way into the mix. “I’m about 80 percent right now,” he said. “Me and (trainer Jayson Goo) have been working all summer long, all fall, so as soon as he says the green light to full go, then I’ll be ready.”

The 6-foot-6 Avea and 6-5 Hemsley are competing at the wing positions; Stallworth is a 6-1 point guard; Thomas is a 6-4 shooting guard and the younger brother of senior forward Mike Thomas.

Trevor LaCount, a 6-7 junior forward, was recently added to the roster as a walk-on player. He is a transfer from Ventura Community College in California.


  1. Very nice video, they all have a sense of humor.

  2. It will be a battle at the point. Nice to have 3 quality players. Have not seen much of Stallworth or Buggs. And Stepteau could be a sleeper depending on how much he worked on his game during the summer. But if any of these guys can shoot consistent 3’s they could see playing time in the 2 slot too. We need shooters like we need wheels on a car to make this team go.

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