KAHUKU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kahuku Red Raiders hold the top seed in the boys basketball state tournament. They've finished runner-up at states three times, but never before have the Red Raiders brought the trophy home. Armed with Samuta Avea, head coach Brandyn Akana is hoping this year is different.
"My favorite phrase for Samuta is that he's basically a highlight reel," said Akana. "He's one of those players that comes around once in a while."
Avea's next stop is at the University of Hawaii. The six-foot-six versatile winger is the first local high school basketball product to sign a scholarship with the 'Bows in over a decade.
"He's a good athlete and he's going to get stronger to grow," said UH head coach Eran Ganot. "It's one of those of those situations where you like where he's at and you like where he's going."
Avea's road to Manoa began nearly two years ago in Utah. He spent just one season on the mainland, his junior year of high school, helping Bingham High School to a Utah 5A Championship.
"I actually didn't get offered by them (UH) until that year playing AAU out there," Avea recalled. "It really made me think about home and how much I missed it, so once I knew the opportunity was there I was really excited to take advantage of it."
"We got on him early and stayed consistent throughout the process and as he received more attention," Ganot said, "I think that relationship was key for him and it's key for how we want to run our program."
With an offer to play for the Rainbow Warriors on the table and his senior season left to play, Avea transferred back to Kahuku, where he spent his freshman and sophomore years, with a clear goal in mind.
"We're going for history," said Avea. "We want to put Kahuku basketball on the map and it's always been my dream to hang the first banner for Kahuku, so it's big reason why I came back."