UH loses guard, adds one
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team lost one guard, but found an immediate replacement yesterday.
Bo Barnes, a 6-foot-4 sharpshooting guard, signed a national letter of intent last night to play for the Rainbow Warriors.
His signing came a few hours after new Hawai'i head coach Gib Arnold announced that guard Jeremy Lay would not return to the team next season.
Barnes is expected to fill a role as a shooting "specialist," according to Arnold.
"Anybody who has seen him play knows he has deep shooting range," Arnold said of Barnes. "He's a specialist — he can really shoot it from anywhere."
Barnes averaged 17.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game last season at Westwind Prep International, a college preparatory school in Phoenix, Ariz.
Barnes will be a freshman at Hawai'i next season, and will have four seasons of eligibility.
"We have to make him a more well-rounded player, but we have four years to do that," Arnold said.
Barnes averaged 19 points per game and made 71 3-pointers in 31 games during his senior season at Scottsdale Christian High in Arizona in 2009. He committed to play for Liberty University, but instead enrolled at Westwind Prep to improve his skills for the college level.
Arnold noted that Barnes has a 3.8 grade point average and is already taking college-level courses.
"We're getting a very good student-athlete," Arnold said. "He's the complete package."
Barnes was also being recruited by Iowa State, Creighton and Virginia. He made an official recruiting visit to Hawai'i last weekend, and informed Arnold of his decision yesterday.
"The first thing he said was, 'Coach, I'm feeling the aloha,' " Arnold said.
Barnes is the fifth new recruit to sign with Hawai'i for next season. The others are 6-4 guard Jordan Coleman, 6-10 center Vander Joaquim, 6-7 forward Josten Thomas and 6-8 forward Trevor Wiseman.
Arnold said he is not done recruiting for next season.
"We still have some gaps to fill," he said. "So we'll keep looking"
One gap was created by the announcement that Lay would be departing. The 6-foot guard just completed his junior season with the 'Bows.
"Jeremy and I were able to sit down and talk about his future and the future of the program," Arnold said. "We agreed it was in everybody's best interest that Jeremy move on and continue his career at another school. We'll continue to work with him on the basketball floor and he'll continue to attend classes to work toward his degree. We're going to help him any way we can."
Lay finished fourth on the team in scoring this past season with 8.4 points per game, and was third with 54 assists and 28 3-pointers.
Lay transferred to UH from Northern Oklahoma College-Enid, and played just one season with the 'Bows.
"I enjoyed my time here in Hawai'i," Lay said in a statement released through the UH athletic department. "Things didn't turn out exactly how I'd hoped, but I'm proud of the effort I gave and I look forward to new opportunities on the basketball court."
Lay will be granted a release from UH so that he can transfer to another program. He has just one season of college eligibility remaining.
Lay scored 26 points in the fifth game of last season, but his production was inconsistent the rest of the way. He finished with a .299 field goal percentage, including .269 from 3-point range.
He missed the final seven games of the season following hernia surgery.
Lay is one of at least two scholarship players who will not return next season.
Ji Xiang informed Arnold that he will return to his native China to try to play basketball next season.
Ji, a 6-10 forward, averaged 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds as a sophomore reserve player this past season. He is on pace to graduate this summer.
The scholarship players eligible to return next season are Bill Amis, Zane Johnson, Douglas Kurtz, Aleksandar Milovic, Hiram Thompson and Dwain Williams.
Arnold can fill 13 scholarships for next season.
NICKELBERRY JOINS DEPAUL STAFF
Kevin Nickelberry was named an assistant coach at DePaul yesterday, choosing the Blue Demons over Hawai'i.
He had been offered an assistant position on the Hawai'i staff by Arnold.
"Kevin is a good friend and he got a great offer at DePaul that he had to take," Arnold said. "I'm happy for him."
Nickelberry was hired at DePaul by new head coach Oliver Purnell. Nickelberry was the recruiting coordinator at Clemson when Purnell was the head coach there.
Arnold said he has a list of "four or five" prospects for his two vacant assistant coach positions.
"I'm going to take my time to make sure we get the right guys in place here," he said.
Current Brigham Young-Hawai'i assistant Brandyn Akana and UH assistant Eran Ganot are considered candidates.