Hawai’i Pacific elevates from within, promotes Flabel to associate head coach

Hawai’i Pacific elevates from within, promotes Flabel to associate head coach

via HPU MBB

Hawai’i Pacific elevates from within, promotes Flabel to associate head coach

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JUNE 18, 2024

HONOLULU – A Hawai’i Pacific men’s basketball coaching search has ended with the answer in-house all along for the 2nd consecutive year. 

Cam Flabel was officially named as the Sharks’ new associate head coach on Monday, elevating the Boise, Idaho native after a nationwide search following the departure of former associate HC Patrick Frost. After three years in various roles on staff, the 25-year-old Flabel heads into his 4th season with Hawai’i Pacific as one of the youngest collegiate associate head coaches in the nation – regardless of level.  

“I am really excited about promoting Coach Cam,” said Sharks head coach Jesse Nakanishi. “He has done great work with our program for three years and has earned this opportunity. He has been instrumental in our recruiting efforts turning this program around. He has great relationships with everyone around him, he’s led our work in the HPU and Honolulu community and he epitomizes the grind, having to work multiple jobs to stay in this profession and work the ladder [to this point].” 

Originally brought on by former HPU head coach Darren Vorderbruegge ahead of the 2021 season as a graduate assistant, Flabel spent the past two years as an assistant coach for the Sharks. He remained with the program after Coach V’s retirement in 2023 when the then-associate HC Nakanishi was promoted to the head coach’s chair, taking on an even bigger role for the program’s day-to-day operations and recruiting endeavors.  

“To be able to stay at Hawai’i Pacific and continue to build this program with Coach Nak is a dream come true. I am extremely grateful and excited for this opportunity,” an exuberant Flabel said. “I don’t take [this role] lightly and it’s something I plan on giving my all to, every single day.” 

Following a 20-win season and the most success for the program in more than a half-decade, Flabel takes over a substantial portion of defensive game-planning duties for HPU while continuing the Sharks’ preparation of scouting and film sessions. Other responsibilities for the 25-year-old coach include overseeing the player development of the Sharks’ guards and wings and continuing to lead HPU’s recruiting. 

“I’ve had some great mentors at HPU – Coach Nak, Coach V and Coach Frost. After being here for three years and slowly working my way up, I’ve gained a ton of experience in every single facet of this program,” said Flabel. “[My time at Hawai’i Pacific] has developed me into being a reliable piece of the staff that has experienced everything from recruiting to player development to scouting to coordination. I feel really prepared for this next step.” 

His immediate boss agreed. 

“The program continuity [Flabel] provides, his loyalty and work ethic made this an easy decision. His best years are still ahead of him and we are just fortunate to have Cam around,” Nakanishi definitively stated. 

Off the court, Flabel is expected to continue planning and coordinating community service projects for HPU while serving as a travel and coordination checkpoint for the program. Last season, the Sharks participated in a mentorship program throughout the school year with two local elementary schools among multiple other community outreach projects through Flabel’s efforts.  

“I really pride myself on doing things the right way – treating people well, recruiting good dudes, giving back to the community and putting the work in on the court with our guys,” Flabel said when asked about his core values as a coach. “I want to continue to build this program the right way with the right people. My first year [in Hawai’i] taught me to not take anything for granted and that it’s always a grind to success.” 

After seeing five departures from last season’s roster coming from various routes, HPU has re-loaded again with five new pieces that can help the program this year and in the future. 

“The program is trending in the right direction and I feel like we have the staff, players and resources to turn [Hawai’i Pacific] into a perennial powerhouse,” an enthusiastic Flabel said. 

Former ‘Bow, Utah Tech assistant coach Gibson Johnson re-joins Hawai’i coaching staff

Former ‘Bow, Utah Tech assistant coach Gibson Johnson re-joins Hawai’i coaching staff

Hawai'i adds former player, Utah Tech assistant Gibson Johnson to staff.

via Hawai’i Athletics

Former ‘Bow, Utah Tech assistant coach Gibson Johnson re-joins Hawai’i coaching staff 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JUNE 5, 2024

HONOLULU – Guess who’s back, back again? 

Former Rainbow Warriors standout Gibson Johnson (‘18) will be joining the Hawai’i men’s basketball coaching staff, UH announced Wednesday morning. It will mark the 2nd stint as a coach for the former standout forward and all-Big West honorable mention after serving on Eran Ganot’s staff as a graduate manager (2019-21) and director of player development (2021-22).  

“First of all, I love the [Hawai’i men’s basketball program],” Johnson said regarding his encore stint on the Rainbow Warriors’ staff. “My love started playing here. I met a lot of special people at this program and university and the state in general is just surrounded by the type of people that I want to surround myself with … It’s a special place.” 

Johnson, who won a junior college national championship at Salt Lake Community College prior to his playing days for the ‘Bows, was a two-year captain and starter for the Rainbow Warriors. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged double-digit points in each season with Hawai’i, starting 59 out of 60 possible games while being named an all-Big West honorable mention during his junior season. 

“Being able to explain what it is on a day-to-day basis [at Hawai’i], what it’s like playing for coach – the amazing things about it and the struggles you go through [as a collegiate student-athlete] – I feel like I’m able to give that insight,” Johnson responded when asked about some of the traits he’ll bring back to the staff. “I have some good qualities as a coach as far as being able to recruit, how connected I am in the game [too].” 

Following his graduation, Johnson took a year as an assistant coach at SLCC before jumping on staff at his alma mater. After his three seasons on the pine with Ganot and company, Johnson accepted a role at Utah Tech as an assistant coach under legendary Division II coach Jon Judkins – who led then-Dixie State to 12 straight winning seasons, six PacWest conference crowns and nine Division II NCAA Tournament appearances before the program transitioned into the Division I institution ranks. 

“It was a learning experience overall. The programs are run differently so [I was afforded] different responsibilities with an elevation going from [director of player development at Hawai’i] to assistant coach,” Johnson said, reflecting on his time with Utah Tech. “I was given full opportunity over at Utah Tech and that really allowed me to grow. Coach [Jon Judkins] is a great guy, over 600 wins in college sports [is hard to do]. 

While with the Trailblazers, Johnson continued refining the multiple aspects of his coaching prowess as a developer of players, strategist, and recruiter. Among his quality traits as a coach, multiple staffs have lauded his ability to recruit and connect with players from across the country. His time at Utah Tech lined up perfectly with that for Idaho transfer sophomore Tanner Christensen, joining the Trailblazers for the 2022-23 season. Christensen committed to transfer to Hawai’i for his final year of eligibility earlier this offseason on April 1 and officially signed on April 17. 

“I’m really excited about where the program is heading,” Johnson said. “We suffocate our program with great people and we’re going to keep pushing in that [positive] direction. I’ve always been about winning championships, it’s the reason I came out here and that’s what we want to do.”