Moving forward: Ganot adds a pair of bigs to ‘Bows roster

Incoming head coach Eran Ganot is starting to put his fingerprints on the University of Hawaii men’s basketball program. Having lost out on at least one impact junior college transfer and likely multiple recruits during the period of uncertainty when there was no head coach in place, the ‘Bows will be looking for production from most of the same faces as last season’s 22-win squad. There are currently no verbally committed incoming freshmen and with most players having already made their determinations, that seems unlikely to change.

But Ganot made his third signing this week with the announcement that Australian forward Jack Purchase will transfer from Auburn and join the ‘Bows. Purchase won’t be eligible to play this upcoming season due to NCAA transfer rules – which are bogus, but we’ll leave that for another day – but he will have three years of eligibility remaining after he sits this year.

Last month Hawaii signed guard Bryce Canda, who will have two years of eligibility. Earlier this month they announced that forward Sai Tummala would be transferring to Hawaii from Arizona State. Tummala will have just one year of eligibility, but he comes into a team that is still young. His leadership should provide value, in itself, and the 6-foot-6 forward fits in with the versatility that the ‘Bows displayed last season.

Having already taken his MCATs and seemingly on his way to a career in medicine after scoring in the 80th percentile, Tummala may not crack the UH starting lineup, but he seems to be exactly the type of individual Ganot will want to maintain a stable locker room. He’s smart, he’s experienced, he’s probably not feeling like he has something to prove.

Though their on-court contributions may not be felt much this season, both Tummala and Purchase are notable gets. They both come from more prestigious basketball institutions. Tummala has the pedigree, having also redshirted at Michigan for a season before a year in junior college and two years coming off the bench for the Sun Devils. Purchase rode the pine for Auburn, but he previously played for the Melbourne Tigers averaging about 21 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. At 6-foot-8, Purchase is likely to be Hawaii’s first back-to-the-basket player since the departure of another charismatic player form that part of the globe, Isaac Fotu.

There seems to be an emphasis on character, at least in Ganot’s first few moves. It makes sense. He’s a very young coach and he’s coming into a program that has been stung with both internal and external controversy. Surrounding the returning players with guys who should fit in and won’t cause much drama would certainly be high on my priority list. There’s a good team already in place that probably hoped Benjy Taylor would be returning. He isn’t, so the last thing they need to feel is that their team is being pulled away from their grasp.

Adding a pair of players who can blend into the style of play Hawaii enjoys, while also increasing their size on the front line is a solid move for a coach whose options are limited.

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