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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 14, 2006

Aona to sign with Southern Utah

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Looking for a smooth transition to college life, Punahou senior Bucky Aona said he will sign a letter of intent to play baseball at Southern Utah.

Aona, who plays first base, was an Advertiser All-State designated hitter as a junior in helping the Buffanblu win the state championship.

By going to Southern Utah, of the Mid-Continent Conference, he will be coached by Punahou alumnus David "Boy" Eldredge, whose collegiate coaching career started at Hawai'i Pacific and later as an assistant at Brigham Young, his college alma mater.

Further, the Thunderbirds have two freshmen starters this season in Saint Louis graduates Chester Wilson and Keli'i Zablan. The Hawai'i connection at SUU played a role in Aona's decision.

"I didn't want to go to a school where there would be a big transition from living in Hawai'i to living on the Mainland," Aona said.

Although he did not visit the campus, he liked what he heard about the program and school from Wilson and Zablan. Plus, he also got a review from Iolani senior pitcher/outfielder C.J. Johnson, who did visit the campus, Aona said.

The right-handed-hitting Aona is 6 feet 2 and 260 pounds. He played defensive tackle in football, but said he never considered continuing the sport in college.

"He has natural instincts for somebody that big," Punahou baseball coach Eric Kadooka said. "He does little things a guy his size isn't expected to do. He's been one of our best hitters since he's been here. He's very coachable, very personable. He can get along with people from anywhere."

Aona, who is in his fourth season on the varsity, also drew interest from Ball State, Hawai'i-Hilo and East Carolina, as well as from junior colleges.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.