7-foot JC center commits to 'Bows
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team took a big step toward filling its big needs yesterday.
Todd Follmer, a 7-foot center at Irvine Valley College (Calif.), said he is committed to playing for the Rainbow Warriors next season.
"I came out to Hawai'i on spring break and got to know some of the players, and had a real good time," he said. "The place was just beautiful and I love the beach, so I knew it was the place for me."
Follmer averaged 10.4 points and 4.5 rebounds as a freshman at Irvine Valley this past season. He shot 55.8 percent from the field, 68.5 percent from the free throw line, and led the team with 39 blocked shots.
He said he will sign an official letter of intent during the "late" signing period, which begins April 12. He will have three seasons of eligibility.
Irvine Valley head coach Jerry Hernandez said Follmer "made great strides" during the season.
"He wasn't starting for us at the beginning of the year, but he worked his way in there," Hernandez said. "By the end of the year, he was one of our top guys."
In the final playoff game of the season, Follmer recorded 29 points and 12 rebounds in a 72-66 loss.
"Todd is very active for a big guy," Hernandez said. "He's a good jump shooter, and he runs the court. He's not your typical 7-footer; he's almost like a European player in that he can do a lot of different things at that size."
Follmer said he likes to play both inside and out, and can play either the center or power forward position.
"I feel like I developed my back-to-the-basket game here (at Irvine Valley)," he said. "But I also feel like I can shoot from the outside and take guys off the dribble from the outside."
Follmer originally signed with UC Santa Barbara in 2004, and redshirted his only season there. He practiced the entire season, but did not suit up for any games.
"It was a good experience for me," he said. "But I just didn't feel right there, so I decided to leave (for Irvine Valley). There was no bad blood with the coaches or anything like that."
Before signing with UCSB, Follmer averaged 15.0 points, 12.1 rebounds and 5.0 blocked shots during his senior season at Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic High. He was recruited by several Pac-10 Conference schools, and made an oral commitment to Washington before changing his mind for UC Santa Barbara.
"I think the best thing about Todd is that he's going to have three years to develop," Hernandez said. "He just needs to continue improving like he did for us. You might not see it his first year there, but by his junior and senior year, I think he could be a very good player."
Follmer said his current weight is 230 pounds, but he would like to add 15 to 20 pounds for next season.
"One of the things I was impressed with on my visit (to UH) was the weight room," he said. "I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time in there."
Follmer is the second player to commit to the 'Bows this week. Todd Lowenthal, a 6-2 point guard at Poway High (Calif.), also plans to sign with Hawai'i.
Both players are named Todd, so there could be a "Big Todd" and "Little Todd" act to follow the "Big Matt" and "Little Matt" show of the past two seasons.
Three of Hawai'i's departing four seniors from this past season were big men — 7-foot Chris Botez, 6-9 "Big Matt" Gipson, and 6-9 Julian Sensley.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.