Hawaii is known for a tropical destination and as a factory for talent in football, volleyball, baseball and softball. It feels like once in a blue moon there will be a division-I or II prospect to come out of Hawaii. Five young men are trying to show the world that there is talent in the 50th state. I was able to sit down with all five young men over dinner.
All five young men have expressed the goal to improve, develop and find an opportunity to continue their playing careers at the college level.
Some may wonder how five young men from Hawaii ended up in the desert? It started last winter when Coach Robbie Shklov (Mid-Pacific Institute) took up my invite to the Central Arizona Holiday Classic hosted by Casa Grande Union High School. His team played very well against Arizona competition with a record of 3-1.
Coach Shklov and I go back from our high school playing days against each other. He gave me a call towards the end of the season to assist him with any post high school opportunities for his point guard Kamana Lapina. With the pandemic and timing, I was able to connect Kamana with Hillcrest Assistant Coach Chris Hurst.
Coach Hurst then connected Kamana and his parents with Program Director Nick Weaver. The next players to follow from Coach Shklov’s recommendations were Nainoa Peters, Liko Soares, Ryan Owens and Kordel Ng. All student-athletes come from strong Hawaii high school basketball programs in Mid-Pacific Institute - Kamehameha, Maryknoll, Kailua and Kalaheo.
In discussing their plans for the upcoming season, they want to work to develop their skills and IQ for the game. They also want to earn an opportunity to play at the college level and showcase that Hawaii has good basketball talent.
Hillcrest Prep’s Post Grad Program has been phenomenal over the years. Coach Nick Weaver, Coach John Jackson and Coach Chris Hurst do a fantastic job in developing and preparing underrated prospects for the next level. I look forward to seeing their progress this upcoming season.
Photo: (Bottom from L-R: Kamana Lapina, Liko Soares, Kordel Ng; Top from L-R Ryan Owens, Nainoa Peters)