UH gets 6-7 JC transfer
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
If the new-look University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is going to make an immediate impact next season, it may have found an immediate-impact player.
Josten Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound guard/forward, said he has signed a letter of intent to join the Rainbow Warriors next season.
"I just feel like Hawai'i is going to be a great place for me to play," Thomas said. "I met Coach Gib (Arnold) and we had a good understanding. I liked what he had in mind for me over there."
Thomas led a talented College of Southern Idaho team in both scoring and rebounding last season. He averaged 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a freshman for the Golden Eagles last season.
"He's a mismatch is what he is," CSI head coach Steve Gosar said. "He's big and strong enough to play in the post, but he's also versatile and quick enough to play outside. He's a very talented kid."
As Thomas put it: "I can bully the little guys and go past the big guys."
Thomas said he was also being recruited by Arizona, West Virginia and Southern Mississippi.
He was even more highly recruited out of high school. He played his junior season at National Christian Academy in Maryland, then transferred to God's Academy in Texas for his senior season after his family moved to Texas.
Among the programs recruiting him while he was in high school were Baylor, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky and Memphis.
However, he did not meet the NCAA academic requirements and enrolled at CSI midway through the 2008-09 season. He redshirted that season to focus on academics, and then helped lead CSI to a 20-12 record this past season.
Thomas is on pace to receive his associate's degree from CSI this summer — something he needs to achieve to become eligible at Hawai'i.
"I don't see it being a problem," Gosar said of Thomas' academic situation. "I think the fact that he's graduating after his freshman year with us caught some people off guard. I think that's why he was under the radar a little bit. I think he'll help Hawai'i right away, he's that talented."
Thomas was the leading scorer on a CSI team that is also sending a player to Duke and another to Washington.
Thomas said he signed a letter of intent yesterday, before making his recruiting trip to Hawai'i. He said he will make his official visit next week.
"Talking to Coach Gib really helped, and there were other people I talked to who told me Hawai'i would be a good place for me," he said.
Arnold, who was named the new Hawai'i head coach last month, said he would reserve comment until the letter of intent is approved by UH officials.
Thomas is the third player to commit to Hawai'i during the "regular" signing period, which started this week.
The others are Trevor Wiseman, a 6-8 guard/forward at Golden Valley High in California, and Vander Joaquim, a 6-10 center at College of Eastern Utah.
Two other recruits will be making visits to UH this weekend: Bo Barnes, a 6-4 shooting guard at Westwind Prep Academy in Arizona, and Keith Shamburger, a 6-foot point guard at Serra High in California.
ARNOLD MAKES ASSISTANT OFFER
Arnold said he has offered one of his assistant coaching positions to Kevin Nickelberry, but details are still being worked out.
Nickelberry is a former head coach at Hampton, and assistant coach at Clemson, Charlotte, Holy Cross, Monmouth and Howard.