Yes, that is quite a trend. Three players with a combined five seasons of eligibility remaining departing from the University of Hawaii basketball team. And all three players started at one time or another for UH, and all three were recruited by coach Gib Arnold two years ago, members of his first class. It’s a class in which seven of nine members have left UH with eligibility remaining.
Did they jump or were they pushed? In the cases of Joston Thomas, Trevor Wiseman and Bobby Miles, good sources tell me they did not “decide” to leave as UH press releases tried to indicate, and that before the season ended they had reason to expect that they would not be invited back for next season — and that they knew this before the team went into the late-season losing streak.
Looking at them individually, I wouldn’t fault Arnold for deciding to cut ties, which is his option since scholarships are renewed annually. Thomas and Wiseman were both disruptive at times, and I think Wiseman’s fate was sealed as an early checkout from the program when he refused to check into a game. Only very talented players can even dream to get away with something like that and suffer only a one-game suspension. As for Miles he was simply not a Division I talent, and also got himself into the doghouse late in the season.
But Arnold does have to be held accountable for so many of his recruits not sticking, regardless who made the decisions to disengage. Especially if he told them they were gone before the end of the season. Especially if it results in an APR hit. Losing most of your guys early to be drafted by the NBA is a lot different than losing most of your guys because they didn’t meet on court or off court expectations.
And the excuse of not having enough time to recruit the year he was hired goes only so far. Perhaps, for the first year at least, he shouldn’t have gone as heavy on marginal high school talents (although I do like the philosophy of recruiting high school players and believe it can work at UH; this trend, however, is patience-testing for an impatient fan base). Then, last year, he went the other way and rolled the dice with talents who would be hard to get into school; most of them did not.
Arnold is polarizing. Those who don’t like him say this is the end of the world and want him fired, now. That’s ludicrous. Those who do say UH basketball is headed in the right direction and all this is just part of building a program. That’s giving him way too much of a pass, especially considering the big raise after last season.
If star center Vander Joaquim leaves — which Joaquim says will not happen because graduation is important to him (refreshing) and those who know the program best do not think will happen — then, we can rant and rave about Arnold losing control of the team. Joaquim would DEFINITELY not be leaving because the coach doesn’t want him around.
So, in my mind, the jury’s still out on Gib Arnold. But his apologists need to remember that these players who aren’t good enough now are players he told us were good enough when he brought them to UH.