Does Joston Thomas leaving the University of Hawaii basketball program a year early raise concern? Or is it just symptomatic of the way things happen now in college hoops?
Are others on the way out, such as Vander Joaquim, Bobby Miles and Trevor Wiseman?
Is Hawaii the kind of program that can thrive with players coming and then going without using all their eligibility, or do the Rainbow Warriors need to develop players in order to compete?
What follows is something I wrote about Thomas in 2011 when Arnold basically but him in timeout for a few days for insubordination. Much of it is still applicable today.
When things are going well for him, Joston Thomas is the brightest star in the universe. When they’re not, he’s sullen and he’s sullen for all the world to see. To this point, the talented Hawaii sophomore forward never hid his emotions, and that’s part of what makes him so much fun to watch when he’s playing well, but it’s also a part of what got him in the doghouse.
Of course it’s disappointing to ride the bench when you’re used to playing heavy minutes. But you can’t show it to the whole arena. When you do that you’re disrespecting your teammates, your coach, and by extension, the entire program.
And you can’t continually argue with your coach and expect no repercussions.
Thomas is a very likable person, and seems to always means well. He tries to be a good teammate and is very genuine in his encouragement of his fellow Rainbows. But if he can’t function consistently as part of a unit — in good times and bad — he’s not going to be a good teammate or player, not to mention the team leader he wants to be, and could become with some maturity.
I’m glad first-year coach Gib Arnold and Thomas have patched things up. I look forward to watching Thomas electrify crowds at the Sheriff Center through the next couple of years. That is, if he truly realizes his role on the team. Because if he doesn’t do that and he becomes even more of a distraction, there’s no way Arnold can keep him on the team. Perhaps sitting in Honolulu while his teammates won a game on the road without him helped wake up Thomas.
Arnold’s goal, as it has been from the beginning, is to get Thomas to consistently perform in a way that helps the team; when Thomas doesn’t try to dribble or shoot from outside too much, he’s fine, he has some great games and helps the team win. When he gets fancy, he doesn’t. It’s simple as that.
When you have a young player who sometimes thrives on emotion but also sometimes hurts himself and his team with it, the question is if that emotion can be reigned in without breaking his spirit and losing the positive energy that can come when it is displayed at the right times.
In Joston Thomas’ case, I think it can. But he shouldn’t test Gib Arnold’s patience again if he likes playing basketball at UH.