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Warriors and new assist king Buggs host Long Beach on Wednesday

Phrases like “save it for later” or “rest for a while” don’t mean much to Drew Buggs anymore. He understands that time is precious – both on the basketball court, and for life, in general.

Buggs’ willingness to play as hard as he can for as long as he can, combined with his penchant for sharing the basketball, have made him the University of Hawai’i basketball program’s all-time leader in assists. And he’s not even close to being finished.

Buggs, a 6-foot-3 junior, established a new UH career mark for assists last Saturday at Cal Poly. He had three assists, raising his individual total to 413. The previous mark of 412 was set by Troy Bowe, who played his senior season in 1990-91.

“I wasn’t concerned about breaking the record that much, I just wanted to win,” Buggs said of setting the new record in UH’s road loss at Cal Poly. “But it was also just a blessing. I was very honored and thankful to have the opportunity to make my mark in history and be in the number 1 spot on the list. It’s always been my dream of playing college sports and leaving a legacy somewhere I went. I didn’t know what kind, I just wanted to leave it. To say that I’m the all-tine leading assist guy means a lot.”

Buggs will add to that total this week, when the Rainbow Warriors host two crucial games in the Big West Conference. Long Beach State comes to the Stan Sheriff Wednesday, and then UH faces UC Irvine on Saturday in what could be a showdown for first place.

“My main goal is to help bring this team to a conference championship and go to the (NCAA) tournament,” he said. “That’s been my goal since day one over any individual goal. I want to be known as a winner, as a leader, so I want to do something like that here.”

Still, the other names on the all-time assists list have already achieved legendary UH status: Bowe, Anthony Carter, Kalia McGee, Roderick Bobbitt, William Colston, Tom Henderson, Alika Smith, Mark Campbell and Chris Gaines now round out the rest of the top 10.

Buggs is now above them all. He still has at least nine games remaining this season, plus a full senior season to come. In typical Buggs fashion, he is quick to share credit for the record.

“First off, credit goes to my teammates and coaches,” he said. “I play with great players that make a lot of shots and I play with coaches who believe in me and put me in a good position to succeed.”

Making it more impressive, Buggs was not considered a full-time point guard during his high school career at Long Beach Poly.

“I always believed I was a point guard, I just never played point guard because we had so many good point guards at my high school,” he said. “The (UH) coaches, they recruited me here to be a combo guard and they wanted to see me play point guard. I was just thankful for the coaches, they believed in me. That was one of the reasons I came here.”

Buggs suffered a significant knee injury during his senior season of high school, which then prompted a redshirt season during his first year as a student-athlete at Hawai’i. He will admit that he is not the quickest or most explosive point guard in the country, but that only made him figure out ways to make the most of his skills.

“I feel like I have a very good IQ for the game,” he said. “I watch a lot of film … I watch a lot of plays that I could have made, that could have been assists. And then I watch my turnovers.”

Buggs is currently leading the Big West Conference in assists at 6.2 per game. He also led the conference as a sophomore last season with 5.4 per game. The only previous UH player to lead a conference in assists two years in a row was Roderick Bobbitt (2015 and 2016).

Buggs also led UH in assists as a freshman and sophomore, and will almost assuredly lead the team again as a junior. No previous UH player has led the team in assists for three consecutive years (let alone four).

So far this season, he has 137 assists. With at least nine games remaining, he has a shot at becoming just the second player in UH history to pass for 200 assists in one season. Anthony Carter holds the season record of 212 during the 1997-98 season.

Due to various circumstances, Buggs has had to play extended minutes this season – 35.1 minutes per game – even when his knees do not feel 100 percent.

Then again, he has a source of inspiration this season that is pushing him through the pain and exhaustion he sometimes experiences on the court. His mother, Mary, passed away unexpectedly in October – three weeks before the season-opener – after a battle with cancer.

“The death of my mother was very sudden and unexpected and it opened up my perspective on life that it can be taken from you any time; it’s real fickle,” he said. “I just want to make the most of my platform, the opportunity I’ve been given here. Just leave everything out there on the court because you never know who I may inspire or when it may be my last time to play a game.

“When my mom was sick and she was battling, she never once complained. She was always concerned about me … I always think that when I’m playing all these minutes in the games that people are going through far worse things than having to worry about being sore or playing through pain.”

Buggs is also the oldest child of Andrew and Mary Buggs. He has two younger sisters (Chloe and Lily), and a younger brother (Luke).

“I’m making sure I’m checking in on them,” he said. “Just trying to be a leader for all of them … I just want to make them proud and be the best big brother I can.”

HAWAI’I (14-8, 5-3 Big West) vs. LONG BEACH STATE (7-17, 2-6 Big West)
When: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 7:00 p.m.  HT
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) – Honolulu, HI
Television: Spectrum Sports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV (Must be a Spectrum cable subscriber to stream in Hawai’i).
Radio: Live on ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i.
Audio Webcast: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Ticket Information: Lower level – $32; Upper level (prices vary by section) – $22 or $15 for adults, $18 or $13 for senior citizens, $8 or $5 for students. UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking is $7.

2 Comments

  1. Congrats to Buggs on this legendary achievement! Every great team needs a floor general with vision and a high basketball IQ. I noticed he’s a redshirt Junior, anyone know if he plans on sticking around for grad school and using his last year of eligibility? He could also easily transfer to another school to use his last year so I’m wondering if he’s looking into other options. He’s already going to smash the record as it is.

    I love his goals of winning the league championship and getting to the big dance. I do feel like this team has all of the tools necessary to do both but they will not only have to stay healthy, but to execute as well. Buggs is usually on point but he’s not immune to bad turnovers. Eddie can go off on any given night but we’ve also seen him go stone cold on more than one occasion. Our bigs have had many bright spots, but are far from perfect. Raimo has been killing it on the boards this season but he could have easily won the game for us at Cal Poly by not missing those 3 ft’s in the last minute of regulation.

    In any case, still time to learn from mistakes, move on, refocus on goals. I always believe and have never stopped! Let’s GO BOWS!!

  2. Congrats Drew Buggs! Please return for your senior year!

    It’s a joy to watch you!

    Hope Samuta and Bernardo are healed up!

    Go Bows!

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