Johnson eager to play for Arnold
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
When Zane Johnson was a standout player at Thunderbird High School in Arizona in 2006, he nearly committed to play for USC because of the assistant coach who was recruiting him at the time.
That assistant coach was Gib Arnold.
As fate would have it, Johnson will be playing for Arnold at the University of Hawai'i four years later.
Arnold was named the new head coach of the Rainbow Warriors yesterday, and it came as exciting news to at least two returning players.
"I'm definitely coming back to play for Coach Arnold," said Johnson, who previously said his decision to return would depend on the selection of the new coach.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, will be a junior next season.
Ironically, he turned down Arnold the first time they met. Johnson opted to sign with his home-state University of Arizona out of high school. He transferred to Hawai'i last year, and sat out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
"The only reason I was even thinking about going to USC was because of Coach Arnold," Johnson said. "He's definitely a good recruiter. I think it's a good situation for the program."
Johnson is one of eight scholarship players eligible to return next season. Arnold can retain or release any of those players.
Forward Bill Amis said he was intent on returning to Hawai'i for his senior season, and was relieved to hear that Arnold was selected as the new coach.
"He seems like a really good guy," Amis said. "I want to prove that we can all play and we're all good players."
Amis redshirted this season due to a foot injury. He was a starter as a sophomore and junior.
Point guard Hiram Thompson is the only starter from this season eligible to return.
The other players eligible to return are Douglas Kurtz, Jeremy Lay, Aleksandar Milovic, Dwain Williams and Ji Xiang.
Williams ended the season on indefinite suspension, and Ji may not return because he is on pace to graduate this summer.
One recruit — Jordan Coleman of Calabasas High in California — signed to play for the 'Bows in November.
Walk-ons Beau Albrechtson, Rykin Enos and Leroy Lutu Jr. are also eligible to return.
Many of the players were off-island yesterday because of spring break. Arnold said he will try to meet with the entire team when classes resume.
"I'm willing to do what ever it takes to help him out," Amis said.
Associate coach Jackson Wheeler and assistant coach Eran Ganot were in the process of recruiting players to Hawai'i for Bob Nash. The status of the Hawai'i assistants will be determined by Arnold.