Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Colina, Madut and Desrosiers bonded at UH while so far from home

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Somewhere in South Sudan, clear across the planet, Junior Madut’s uncle wears a dry-fit University of Hawai’i basketball shirt. Proudly.

We know, because that uncle was donning the white with green tapa trim letters in a video message from Sudan on Saturday night congratulating his nephew, who scored 10 points in his last home game before 3,417 loud and appreciative fans in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center. It was one of several touching moments in the annual “Senior Night” postgame celebration that somehow never gets old.

“It was surreal, it’s just crazy, I’m still in shock that they were able to get my family all the way in South Sudan to be on the screen and talk to me,” said Madut, who covered his mouth with his hand in amazement as he watched three generations of family members give him their personal well wishes on the jumbo screen. “I told myself I wasn’t going to get emotional, and then that video … I really appreciate it, it was probably one of the best moments of my life. I’ll never forget that moment.”

For the first time in recent memory — perhaps ever — all three players honored on Senior Night grew up in foreign countries. Madut is originally from Sudan before moving to Sydney, Australia. Mate Colina is from Melbourne, Australia. And Jerome Desrosiers is from Quebec, Canada.

“That’s a big thing … I think that creates a special bond, for sure,” said Desrosiers, a graduate transfer from Princeton who also got to watch video messages from family members in Canada. “Knowing that we’re not home as much, we come from different cultures, and we get to bring that together and just play the game we love so much.”

Colina, a fourth year junior who will graduate in May, was greeted in person by his parents and sisters after receiving his lei, senior award and performing his final dunk.

“Being international, we have a special connection,” Colina said. “But this whole group has a special connection, that’s been the biggest thing with us.”

Madut said Senior Night represented the feeling he has experienced since enrolling at UH a little more than two years ago as a junior college transfer.

“I’ll miss the love, the family … even just tonight, just walking around and getting lei from everyone, there’s a lot of love here,” Madut said. “I just thought it was going to be a quick ceremony, and we’re outta here. But this was probably one of the most special nights I’ve ever had.”

Warriors coach Eran Ganot said knowing how the players would fit into Hawaii’i’s culture is an important part of the recruiting process.

“People talk about fit — fit with us and fit with the style of play, but it’s more than that,” Ganot said. “It’s a fit with our program, the university, it’s gotta be a fit with the athletic department, the entire state … For them to be able to be so far from home, and feel like home (here), that’s a credit to them and a credit to everybody in Hawaii’i. And they recognize it, and that’s why it’s so emotional, because of their attachment to here. This is a family for life, and I’m just really happy for them and proud of them.”

Desrosiers said he has felt the attachment to UH and Hawai’i despite being here less than a year.
“Honestly, this place is all about family, and I think you felt that throughout the Senior Night,” Desrosiers said. “With the leis, everybody stays, everybody’s here, everybody cheers us … it’s just a lot of fun. We feel loved, we feel appreciated, and that’s why this place is the best.” 

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