Hawai’i men’s basketball assistant coach Brad Davidson joins ‘Wake Up in the Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’

Hawai’i men’s basketball assistant coach Brad Davidson joins ‘Wake Up in the Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’

Hawai’i men’s basketball assistant coach Brad Davidson joins ‘Wake Up in the Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JUNE 4, 2024

HONOLULU – From the Land Down Under, to the frigid cold of the Dakotas (both North AND South), to a happy medium in the middle in Hawai’i, Brad Davidson’s coaching career has taken plenty of twists and turns. 

It has also allowed him to take in plenty of action featuring plenty of talent. 

The veteran basketball coach sat down Tuesday for a getting-to-know episode of Wake Up in The Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’ and discussed a multitude of topics including his 13-year playing career in the NBL, the time he was replaced by a young Patty Mills for the Australian national team and his foray into coaching. 

After learning about the foundation that built Hawai’i’s Aussie assistant coach, the conversation shifted over to the Rainbow Warriors and how Davidson got involved with the ‘Bows in the first place. Knowing head coach Eran Ganot for a while through days of working on the highest-level circuit in Australia for basketball, Davidson had always half-joked with the ‘Bows head coach that he would be ready at the ring of a phone for a spot on the staff in Hawai’i – and then pounced on the opportunity when the real telephone ring came. 

Since coming to Hawai’i ahead of the 2021 season, Davidson has continued helping produce high-level guards, including assistance in the development of JoVon McClanahan as an all-conference caliber player. With the 2024-25 edition of the ‘Bows, it’ll be a new group of talented faces that Davidson says he is looking forward to working with. 

“You can see the hunger there for him and the chip on his shoulder,” Davidson said of incoming transfer Marcus Greene while discussing Hawai’i’s recruiting class so far. “He also has great leadership skills which is [something apparent with incoming freshman] Aaron Hunkin-Claytor.” 

Davidson mentioned returning junior point guard Kody Williams along with freshman AJ Economou that will get a chance to compete for a role this season, discussing the little things that make each player unique in the process. Hawai’i also returns standout sophomore guard Tom Beattie and promising young forward Akira Jacobs as players expected to progress in year two. 

You can catch ‘Wake Up in The Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’ live every weekday morning from 8-9 a.m. HT on 95.1 FM, AM 760 and streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com. The show is available after recording where most podcasts are, along with past OIA and HPU broadcasts and older interviews. 

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, Hawaii Sports Radio Network, for the behind-the-scenes of shows and interviews like this one and many more! 

UH Men’s Basketball: 2024 Offseason Recruiting/Transfer Portal Tracker

UH Men’s Basketball: 2024 Offseason Recruiting/Transfer Portal Tracker

UH Men’s Basketball: 2024 Offseason Recruiting/Transfer Portal Tracker 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APR 8, 2024 UPDATED JUNE 8, 2024

The 2024 offseason presents a big remodeling of the UH men’s basketball program, losing six seniors and injured sophomore center Mor Seck to the transfer portal. In all, Hawai’i lost the top five point-producers from last season with the graduation of 1,000-point scorers Noel Coleman and Bernardo de Silva, all-Big West selection Justin McKoy, sharpshooting 8th-year guard Juan Munoz and late-clock magician & prime table-setter JoVon McClanahan. 

The quintet of Rainbow Warriors leave many holes on the roster to fill for head coach Eran Ganot and staff to fill. Hawai’i returns promising young prospects in 6-foot-5 guard Tom Beattie and 6-foot-9 forward Akira Jacobs while looking to soon-to-be juniors Kody Williams and Harry Rouhliadeff to take a leap in production. Ryan Rapp, the sweet-shooting guard from Australia that started 18 games in 2023-24 for Hawai’i, is also expected to return next season. The ‘Bows also have signed 6-foot-3 guard Aaron Hunkin-Claytor and have early-enrollee high-flying wing AJ Economou ready to join the fray entering next year. 

Since contact with recruits/transfers has been permitted, the UH men’s basketball staff has been on the road hard at work to help fill in the missing puzzle pieces for competing for the Big West in 2024-25. Below, you can find an up-to-date list on the latest in ‘Bows basketball recruiting from rumors to offers to commitments. 

Hawai’i in contact with experienced 6-foot-7 double-digit scorer

(JUNE 5) The Rainbow Warriors are on the hunt again, checking on former Sacramento State guard Zee Hamoda in the transfer portal as Hawai’i works to fill out the remainder of the roster after the graduation of six seniors. Already receiving commitments from guard Marcus Greene and center Tanner Christensen, the 6-foot-7 Hamoda would play on the wing for UH men’s basketball after averaging nearly 12 points and four rebounds per game last season for Sacramento State.

Hamoda began his career at Utah State, appearing in 62 games off the bench for the Aggies across two seasons before transferring to Sac State for his junior season. The 6-foot-7 wing eclipsed double-digit points in 22 of 34 games last year, including a 15-point, 6-rebound showing in a 10-point loss at Big West tournament champion Long Beach State on December 2. Hamoda has also heard from UMass, San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara among many others since entering the transfer portal.


 

St. Thomas More (CT) springy forward Roy Igwe commits to Rainbow Warriors

(MAY 10) The 2024 high school recruiting class for the Hawai’i men’s basketball program just got a bit more athletic.

Roy Igwe, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound wing that grew up in Japan, announced his commitment to the Rainbow Warriors on Friday, May 10. After graduating from school in Japan, Igwe spent a season at Connecticut prep school St. Thomas More while preparing for chance at the next level and now is expected to join the ‘Bows as a walk-on with four years of eligibility.

Igwe played against Hawai’i during the Rainbow Warriors’ international trip to Japan in August of 2023, catching the eye of coaches ahead of his prep season in Connecticut after showing off his strength and athleticism against some of the more veteran players on the UH roster during a scrimmage against the Tokyo Samurai. He is the 2nd UH men’s basketball commit with Japanese ties in the last two seasons, joining rising sophomore Akira Jacobs on the Rainbow Warriors’ roster.

He becomes the second member of UH’s high school recruiting class for 2024, joining three-star guard Aaron Hunkin-Claytor.


 

Former Mr. Basketball winner visiting Hawai’i as ‘Bows continue backcourt remodel (NEWS)

(MAY 6) Hawai’i hosted former Minnesota Gophers guard Braeden Carrington on Monday, multiple sources confirmed to HSRN. The 6-foot-4 sophomore from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota was a high school standout that originally decided to stay home and suit up for the Gophers following a senior year that saw his team go 31-1, capture the school’s first state title and the guard himself get named as the 2022 Mr. Basketball honoree in Minnesota. His recognition as Minnesota’s “Mr. Basketball” followed a two-year run of future top-5 NBA Draft selections Jalen Suggs (’20) and Chet Holmgren (’21) and Carrington became the first honoree to stay home to play for Minnesota in six years (Amir Coffey, ’16).

Carrington averaged 4.6 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per contest across 29 appearances (10 starts) for Minnesota in 2023-24, becoming a defensive standout at times for the Gophers on the perimeter. The guard is a strong athlete with a good frame (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) who does damage in transition, at the rim and on the left side of the floor. The UH men’s basketball program has already received commitments from former Utah Tech center Tanner Christensen and former Houston Christian guard Marcus Greene from the transfer portal, joining AJ Economou and Aaron Hunkin-Claytor in the 2024 recruiting class for UH.

****UPDATE: Carrington announced his commitment to Tulsa on Saturday, May 11****


 

Greene joining Rainbow Warriors, becoming 2nd offseason transfer addition (COMMIT) 

(MAY 2) Hawai’i’s backcourt rotation for next season received a boost on Thursday as Houston Christian transfer Marcus Greene committed to the ‘Bows, via the guard’s Instagram account. The 6-foot-2 junior became the 2nd college transfer to commit to UH this offseason and should be an immediate contributor for the Rainbow Warriors after averaging 15.1 points per contest for the Huskies during the 2023-24 campaign, shooting 42.7% from 3-point range and dishing out three assists a game. 

The guard spent his freshman season at Sacramento State before spending a year at Panola College (TX), transferring out from the NJCAA program to HCU after helping lead the team to a top-10 national ranking and a regional final in his lone season. Greene visited the University of Hawai’i campus last weekend, meeting with the team and coaching staff as he mulled over his next college home before eventually landing on wearing the green and white for his last year of eligibility. 


 

Bows set to host VT’s Camden, Houston Christian guard Marcus Greene for official visit (NEWS) 

(APRIL 26) Eran Ganot’s recruiting efforts continue over the weekend as Hawai’i hosts 6-foot-8 Virginia Tech transfer John Camden and Houston Baptist 6-foot-2 point guard Marcus Greene for official visits. 

Camden would fill a similar mold to recent Hawai’i standout forwards Kamaka Hepa and Justin McKoy, transferring into the Hawai’i program after seeing limited action with Power 5 programs with a chance to take a leap into a larger role. The forward from Downingtown, PA started his college career at Memphis before transferring to Virginia Tech. After dealing with a variety of injuries, Camden struggled to get in a rhythm and find playing time for a steady Hokies team. He was a top-100 recruit and ranked as highly as 4 stars by Rivals coming out of high school. 

Greene averaged 15.1 points per game last season for Houston Christian, starting all 28 contests for the Huskies and is one of the top 3-point shooters in the portal after drilling 42.7% of his 3-point attempts last year. The 6-foot-2 guard is considered a 3-level scorer and can create his own shot. 


Hawai’i checks in on Division II standout point guard from CSUSB (INTEREST) 

(APRIL 19) Chris Mitchell, a 6-foot-4 guard from Oceanside, Calif., has received check-ins from multiple Big West programs during the transfer process he told @ThePortalReport. The former Cal State San Bernardino standout helped lead the ‘Yotes to the NCAA Division II Final Four, averaging 16.1 ppg on 49% shooting from the field while snagging 7.4 rebounds per contest. 

Other than the ‘Bows, Mitchell has heard from UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton from the Big West. In all, the junior combo guard has heard from over 20 schools across the nation. 


SWAC Player of the Year hears from Hawai’i, various Power 5 programs (INTEREST)

(APRIL 18) Jackson State guard Ken Evans, the 2023-24 SWAC Player of the Year, has recently heard from Hawai’i during his recruitment process. The 6-foot-5 scorer is a hot commodity in the portal, receiving calls from West Virginia, Louisville and Nevada among many others. 

Originally from Mississippi, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have reportedly contacted Evans. The reigning SWAC Player of the Year averaged just under 19 points per night last season while starting 32 games, dropping 25 points in a late December game versus Gonzaga. 


UH hosting NJCAA D1 All-American guard for weekend visit (NEWS)

(APRIL 12) Hawai’i continued a heavy pursuit of former Casper College guard Darius Robinson over the weekend as the 6-foot-1 shooter visited the islands for a multi-day stay, the Chicago native posted on his Instagram story. Averaging more than 18 points per contest on 42% 3-point shooting, Robinson helped his Casper (Wyo.) team to a 24-9 record in his sophomore season with creative playmaking and elite long-range shooting and was named an NJCAA Division I All-American honoree.

Robinson was the 2nd-best free throw shooter in NJCAA D1, hitting at an 89.3% clip from the stripe. His 111 3-point makes ranked fifth-most in the country among JUCO shooters while there were only 15 players in the NCAA from Division I, II and III to hit more threes than the Casper guard in 2023-24. The visit to Hawai’i for Robinson continues a prolonged courtship from the Rainbow Warriors with first reported interest and contact between the two coming back at the end of February.

****UPDATE: Robinson announced his commitment to Oral Roberts on Tuesday, April 30****


 

Rainbow Warriors, other Big West programs check up on Idaho guard EJ Neal 

(APRIL 9) Former Idaho Vandals guard EJ Neal has heard from Hawai’i, Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara out of the Big West since entering the transfer portal, he told @ThePortalReport on X on April 9. The 6-foot-5 junior guard appeared in 29 games for Idaho this past season, starting eight of them. 

Before his transfer to Idaho, Neal was a two-time 1st team Coast North honoree and two-time All-Defense player at City College of San Francisco. The guard was the 2023 Coast North Defensive Player of the Year and went 61-5 in two years at the JUCO level. Neal has also heard from high-major programs such as UCLA and USC while Washington State and St. Bonaventure have also checked in with the defensive standout. 

****UPDATE: Neal announced his commitment to Sacramento State on Saturday, April 13.****


 

Former LA prep guard, Montana State three-level scorer hears from Hawai’i 

(APRIL 9) Former Montana State freshman guard Jaqari Miles heard from Hawai’i and a bevy of other schools, he told @ThePortalReport on April 9. The 6-foot-4 guard scored 10 points in his collegiate debut before suffering an injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the year. He received a medical redshirt for the year and holds four years of eligibility still. 


 

Hawai’i in the mix for former 4-star, 6-foot-8 wing out of ACC (OFFER/RUMOR) 

(APRIL 3) UH has been in contact regarding the transfer process of Virginia Tech redshirt sophomore John Camden, ESPN college basketball insider Jeff Borzello reported on April 3. The 6-foot-8 forward was rated as a 4-star recruit by Rivals and was ranked as high as the 90th-best recruit in the class of 2021 when he committed to the University of Memphis.

Camden dealt with injuries early in his college career that sidetracked the shooter, slowing development at Memphis before deciding to transfer to Virginia Tech (LSU was also in consideration until the end). After two seasons with the Hokies, Camden re-entered the transfer portal with two years of eligibility remaining. 

**** UPDATE: Camden announced his commitment to Delaware on Monday, May 6. ****


 

Christensen becomes first to join Rainbow Warriors’ reload (COMMIT)

(APRIL 1) Tanner Christensen, a 6-foot-10 center from Spokane, WA, was the first UH commitment of the offseason, coming to the islands via the transfer portal on Monday, April 1 after spending the past two seasons in St. George playing for Utah Tech in the Western Athletic Conference. 

While suiting up for the Trailblazers, Christensen started 63 out of 63 possible games and increased his scoring average into double digits by his second season. The UH men’s basketball program has been eyeing the big man for a long time – 2024 is the 2nd transfer of Christensen’s career after spending two seasons at Idaho – and finally got their guy in a sturdy, mature 24-year-old with a polished offensive game and a knack for swatting shots. 


 

NJCAA D1 National Champion 6-foot-7 wing offered by the ‘Bows (OFFER)

(MARCH 26) Barton Community College wing Lajae Jones was offered by Eran Ganot and the UH men’s basketball program, the left-handed shooter announced on his social media on March 26. After the offer, Barton went on to win the NJCAA Division I championship to cap off a 36-1 year as Jones led the team in points per game (15.4), 3-point percentage (42.2%) and field goal percentage (54.0%) in his sophomore season. 

The lanky forward showed off impressive athleticism and a soft 3-point stroke in a well-rounded offensive game while flashing creation ability for himself and untapped potential as a distributor. According to his social media, Jones holds offers from Stephen F. Austin, Samford, St. Bonaventure, Murray State, Eastern Kentucky, tournament-darling Oakland (MI) and others. 

****UPDATE: Jones announced his commitment to St. Bonaventure on Saturday, April 27.****


 

Hawai’i interested & active in Casper guard, top JUCO shooter’s recruitment (RUMOR/INTEREST) 

(FEB 22) Casper College (WY) guard Darius Robinson is a name to keep an eye on during the offseason transfer cycle for Hawai’i after the sophomore guard finished his second season at the NJCAA Division I program. Via Rising Ballers & JUCO Exposure Networks on Instagram, the 6-foot-1 guard from Chicago, Illinois has heard from the Rainbow Warriors among many other schools as he looks for a home among the NCAA Division I level. 

Robinson started all 33 games for Casper in 2023-24, averaging 18.4 points per game, second-most on the 24-9 Thunderbirds’ roster. The guard is an elite shooter, hitting at a 41.9% clip from behind the 3-point arc on eight long range attempts per contest – even ranking 2nd in the nation from the free throw line (89.3%). He hit 111 3-pointers in total last season, 44 more than Juan Munoz’s UH-best 67 made triples in 2023-24 and 5th-most among all players the NJCAA Division I level. 

Dynamic transfer guard Marcus Greene announces commitment to Hawai’i

Dynamic transfer guard Marcus Greene announces commitment to Hawai’i

Former HCU guard Marcus Greene has committed to Hawai’i men’s basketball | via UH Athletics, Marcus Greene

Dynamic transfer guard Marcus Greene announces commitment to Hawai’i

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 2, 2024

HONOLULU – The grass is certainly a bit more “Greene” for the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors as the offseason recruiting cycle rages on. 

Hawai’i’s backcourt rotation for next season received a huge boost on Thursday as Houston Christian transfer Marcus Greene committed to the ‘Bows, via the guard’s Instagram account. The 6-foot-2 junior became the 2nd college transfer to commit to UH this offseason and should be an immediate contributor for the Rainbow Warriors after averaging 15.1 points per contest for the Huskies during the 2023-24 campaign, shooting 42.7% from 3-point range and dishing out three assists a game. 

The guard spent his freshman season at Sacramento State before spending a year at Panola College (TX), transferring out from the NJCAA program to HCU after helping lead the team to a top-10 national ranking and a regional final in his lone season. Greene visited the University of Hawai’i campus last weekend, meeting with the team and coaching staff as he mulled over his next college home. 

“Hawai’i is such a beautiful place, enriched with culture and is like no other place to live so that really spoke to me,” Greene said about what helped push him to Hawai’i. “Even more so, talking and spending time with the players and coaching staff made my decision clear.” 

The Gilroy, California-native guard fills another one of the holes left by the graduation of six seniors from last season’s Hawai’i team while providing a different level of athleticism in the backcourt. Greene, who knocked down a 3-pointer in 25 of 28 games last season and averaged 2.2 made 3-pointers per contest for the Huskies, is expected to help ease the loss of sharpshooting guards Juan Munoz and Noel Coleman. 

In 2023-24, Greene took his game to a higher level the better the competition got. Against high-major schools or programs from the NCAA tournament field, he averaged 17.4 points per game. Among other schools that were active in Greene’s recruitment included St. Bonaventure, UC Davis and San Jose State before the standout guard eventually decided to bring his talent to the islands of Hawai’i. 

The junior guard said that he’s already excited about getting to work with the staff and his new teammates, eyeing a dream season in his move to paradise. 

“I’m super excited and have high hopes on what we can be together as a team. Now, we can enjoy the fun in working and building up so we can become exactly what we strive for,” Greene said of his mindset going into his final year of eligibility. “It is really such a blessing that I can pursue academics and athletics here in Hawai’i.” 

Greene joins Utah Tech transfer Tanner Christensen as part of the ‘Bows reload, providing two experienced college players to a team that likely will see many minutes be filled with underclassmen such as Tom Beattie and Akira Jacobs. Hawai’i also will add Salesian point guard and three-star recruit Aaron Hunkin-Claytor as part of the 2024 recruiting class while continuing activity among transfer portal players. 

For the latest on Hawai’i recruiting, check out Hawai’i Sports Radio Network’s UH men’s basketball recruiting tracker, here.

Hawai’i receives commitment from Utah Tech 6-foot-10 shot blocker

Hawai’i receives commitment from Utah Tech 6-foot-10 shot blocker

via Tanner Christensen, University of Hawai’i

Hawai’i receives commitment from Utah Tech 6-foot-10 shot blocker

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APR 1, 2024

HONOLULU – The re-loading of the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team has kicked off with a big body in the middle. 

Former Utah Tech starting center Tanner Christensen announced his commitment to the Rainbow Warriors on Monday, giving head coach Eran Ganot’s team a much-needed shot blocker on the roster after the graduation of starter Bernardo de Silva and Mor Seck’s decision to enter the transfer portal. 

“What stuck out to me was how under [Ganot and staff] … that they’ve had a winning program and a history of competing for Big West titles,” Christensen said in a message to Hawai’i Sports Radio Network. “I’m most excited to play in front of the great fan base at UH and to explore the island.” 

In the past nine seasons, Hawai’i has won 60.5% of their games and has never finished a season under .500 in Big West play since Ganot took over. 

The big man from Spokane, WA also attended the Hawai’i men’s volleyball match against UC Santa Barbara to close out March, seeing the power of the Stan Sheriff Center when full.  

“I thought the fans and the atmosphere were awesome,” he said glowingly. 

Christensen, who stands at 6-foot-10 and 275 pounds, averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season for Trailblazers while shooting 56% from the field and 60% from the charity stripe. He has increased his scoring average every season in college, blocked more shots last season than any player has in Ganot’s time at Hawai’i and has one season of eligibility remaining as a graduate transfer. 

It is the first of what many expect to be a flurry of additions for Hawai’i this offseason as the Rainbow Warriors lose six seniors to graduation and saw sophomore 7-foot-1 big Mor Seck enter the transfer portal. 

Hawai’i will also add prep guard Aaron Hunkin-Claytor as part of the 2024 recruiting class, a 3-star recruit according to 247Sports and the 2023-24 West Coast Preps Bay Area player of the year. The former ‘Iolani guard said in a text that he is “excited to play with Christensen” and has been working on his strength since his senior season at Salesian ended in the CIF Open Division State Championship game against Harvard-Westlake. 

After time away, Hawai’i MBB commit Aaron-Hunkin Claytor itching to come home

After time away, Hawai’i MBB commit Aaron-Hunkin Claytor itching to come home

After time away, Hawai’i MBB commit Aaron-Hunkin Claytor itching to come home

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 10, 2024

HONOLULU — The thought had been sitting in the background of his mind for a while, but former ‘Iolani guard Aaron Hunkin-Claytor could not hold it off any longer. 

“I’m so ready to get back home and play,” he shared via message on an early morning back on January 26. 

After two years away from the islands, a commitment to the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and a phenomenal senior regular season at Salesian Preparatory College in California that saw his team honored as the top-ranked high school program in Northern California after a 25-1 regular season, Hunkin-Claytor allowed himself to think about the future for a moment. 

“I just miss playing in front of the people in Hawai’i and the atmosphere [inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center]. I love high school, but I am just really excited to play for the home team and for the ‘Bows,” he said to his circle. 

The 6-foot-3 point guard grew up in Hawai’i, spending nearly his entire life on the island of O’ahu with stops in Laie and Wahiawā after being born in Virginia. Hunkin-Claytor, the son of former University of Hawai’i-Hilo standout Mario Claytor, enjoyed a successful two seasons with ‘Iolani on the way to being named as a part of Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Fab 15 list before taking his talents to Richmond, California and the mainland to play for veteran head coach Bill Mellis at Salesian where his game could be developed even further. 

“Basketball-wise, [I have been] able to learn a lot more about being a true point guard from [Coach Mellis],” Hunkin-Claytor said explaining his move to the mainland. “Plus, colleges were able to come watch us practice during open periods easier at Salesian than in Hawai’i.” 

The move served its exact purpose, helping the guard improve in all facets of the game while receiving enough exposure to collect up 13 Division 1 scholarship offers while being rated as a three-star prospect and the top point guard in Northern California’s 2024 class (via Prep Hoops.com). As one of the more underrated guards in the country, Hunkin-Claytor has continued to rack up recognition and praise from anyone watching him play. 

For example, the head man of the program that Hunkin-Claytor plays for has been effusive with his praise of his senior guard. Salesian coach Bill Mellis has seen many elite, Division 1-caliber guards come through the school and play for him — including University of Hawai’i senior guard and captain JoVon McClanahan — and yet he couldn’t pick out any that were definitively better players than the all-around efficient Hunkin-Claytor. 

“[I think] he’s just as good as any [Salesian point guard I’ve coached] to be honest,” the 26th-year head coach said in a phone interview. “Different, but just as good.” 

Both Hunkin-Claytor and Mellis describe the guard’s game as “pass-first” with an emphasis on ball security as the three-star guard has posted better than a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio against an excellent slate of teams during his senior season.  

Hunkin-Claytor has always had a natural feel for the game — he fits all the clichés that are said about old-school point guards with a maturity beyond his years both on and off the floor. An extra coach on the hardwood, a pass-first, unselfish player with a mindset that has been shared and reflected from the moment he stepped into a uniform for The Pride.  

“He came in last year and his unselfishness was infectious,” Mellis recalled. “[This year’s Salesian team] is a group who doesn’t care who scores and that all started with Aaron setting the tone from the moment he got here.” 

Despite an affinity for passing, do not doubt the fact he can add in the scoring department himself at all three levels. Hunkin-Claytor is a right-handed shooter with quality shot mechanics and a comfort finishing with his left hand as much as his right that helps him do damage in transition with his creativity. 

For those who know the young man, it was easy to see this rise coming. He is as hard a worker as they come. 

The son of a military dad who was inspired by his father to pursue basketball, Hunkin-Claytor is the first one to practice every day – regardless of time – while maintaining excellence in the classroom. In Hunkin-Claytor’s time at Salesian, Mellis said that he had never once had to worry about his point guard taking care of business in school. According to Hunkin-Claytor, ‘Iolani’s regimen is to thank for preparing him well ahead of time for what he would see. 

“I found that in the classroom, ‘Iolani prepared me very well,” the senior said of his time at the ILH institution. “Salesian is a very good school academically, but I don’t think a lot of schools can top ‘Iolani’s academics.”  

Alongside the school workload, the scheduling of the basketball program at Salesian resembles that of a collegiate student-athlete. After his commitment to UH back on September 16, Hunkin-Claytor felt a weight off of his shoulders knowing his next step was set and could focus all his energy on his development and winning. 

Win, he absolutely has. 

Since the move to Salesian, Hunkin-Claytor has two seasons of 20+ wins and 9 total losses in that time. Overall, he is a winner who has not been too focused on stats while his team blows out a good portion of the schedule – he’s averaging a very balanced 8.2 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per contest on a squad without a “go-to scorer” identified and only half a game’s worth of minutes at a time.  

His goals do not stop with the regular season. With conference playoffs underway, Hunkin-Claytor’s Salesian team has eyes on sectionals and state titles. The Pride is the favorite to represent Northern California in the state tournament.  

That should excite Hawai’i men’s basketball fans, too. Hunkin-Claytor gives off every inclination that he fits perfectly with a program that has not finished under .500 in a full season of conference play since Eran Ganot took over but has struggled to win the Big West Tournament. In Hunkin-Claytor, the program adds a winner who is not satisfied with just regular season success. 

The high school senior has expressed plenty of excitement about joining the program that fits his mindset, too. Despite 13 total offers that included a pair of UH’s Big West foes in UC Davis and Cal Poly, Hawai’i always felt like home no matter where else he gave a chance to. The only question left was the connection to the coaches and team. 

“The team itself, the [high pick-and-roll] offense, the coaches and the community,” Hunkin-Claytor listed off when asked what pushed the ‘Bows over the top for him. “Really everything felt like a perfect fit to me.” 

The excitement for Hunkin-Claytor only grew more after Southern California high school product AJ Economou announced his commitment to the islands, leading to dreams of a high-flying, hot-shooting fast backcourt pairing between the two California prep school additions. Economou enrolled early at UH and has been seen on the bench with the Rainbow Warriors, although he will not play this season. 

“I’m ready to play with everyone on the team [but] I’m really ready to play with [Economou],” Hunkin-Claytor admitted. “We haven’t been able to play with or against each other, but I’ve watched his film and love his game. He’s an athletic, tall wing that can flat-out shoot and I think in transition it’s going to be fun to play with him.” 

Asked what makes Economou a “high-flyer” via text, Hunkin-Claytor responded with a video of his future UH teammate and simply said: “He has one of the best in-game dunk highlights in AAU history.” 

While he has tons of enthusiasm for returning home, he understands that the work has only just begun. He has confidence in his jumper, handle and court-vision while being a bulldog defensively – he leads the Pride in charges drawn/taken this season – but also needs to add strength to his skinny frame as he steps up a level. His head coach cautions that there is still plenty of room to grow for AHC but also expects his floor general to compete for time from Day 1 on Hawai’i’s campus. 

“He makes his teammates better,” Mellis continued. “He’ll need to get stronger, add more arc and consistency, but that’s every player. His court-vision is about as good as anyone.” 

He draws inspiration for his game from all-time greats like Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd, a pair of do-it-all point guards who had an affinity for passing the ball more than scoring it. A pair of guards that slowly developed a more consistent three-point jumper as their careers progressed. 

“Magic was a big guard that always made the game look fun but protected the ball from smaller guards while [Kidd] was a very strong guard who was an absolute floor general as well. They’re two guys I try to take the most from,” Hunkin-Claytor mentioned. 

Overall, the Hawai’i commit comes back home to the islands as a better player and leader than when he left. The exciting part of his return is the ceiling hasn’t been set for him – like a fine wine, Hunkin-Claytor is only getting better with time. 

“I’m really excited to play for and in front of the people,” Hunkin-Claytor exclaimed. “I can’t wait to be home!”