By Fred Guzman
University of Hawaii basketball coach Gib Arnold was the recipient of bad news shortly after the plane bearing his team landed in Honolulu on Sunday following a relatively successful 17-day tour of Asia:
High-scorng prep guard Gerry Blakes became the fourth academic casualty among Arnold’s recruiting class for the upcoming season. Blakes averaged more than 23 points and three assists as a senior at Morningside High School in Los Angeles. But he did not make the academic cut at UH.
Blakes said he now plans on attending a prep school in Dallas starting in September to make up a class he needs to enroll at UH starting in the semester break in December. That would conceivably make him eligible to play for UH during the WAC campaign.
Once Blakes attends a prep school, however, his recruiting opens up again. But Blakes express loyalty to Hawaii during an interview with the Star-Advertiser.
Arnold has come under some fire for his high-risk recruiting philosophy – an approach the second-year coach believes will pay major dividends over the long term.
But for the present, four of his Arnold’s original UH signees for the coming season — swingman DeShawn Mitchell, power forward Ronnie Stevens, small forward Dillon Biggs and now Blakes — won’t be enrolled at Manoa when formal workouts begin in October.
Arnold said he still hopes to eventually gain the services of the latter three players, but – at the moment, at least – his recruiting class for the coming season has taken a major hit.
To fill the void, Arnold has signed several other players.
Christian Standhardinger, a former Nebraska forward, accepted a scholarship to UH but will have to sit out games in the upcoming season as a transfer. The 6-8 Standhardinger, a native of Germany, was the Nebraska’ third-leading scorer through his first six games as a sophomore, averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. But he left the team in December after clashing with Huskers coach Doc Sadler.
Hawaii also added 6-3 JC guard Garrett Jefferson, who will be able to play immediately.
Arnold said he was happy with UH’s performance and development during the Asian tour, during which the Rainbows went 3-2 agaisnt pro teams in China and Japan. Emerging as a likely standout for UH during the trip was freshman point guard Shaquille Stokes, the reigning New York City player of the year.