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Tuesday, October 21, 2014         

RAINBOWS BASKETBALL


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UH basketball recruits Biggs, Blakes put past battles aside

By Brian McInnis

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It wasn't the best of starts for Dillon Biggs and Gerry Blakes.

The two Los Angeles high school basketball senior all-stars, of Dorsey High and Morningside High, got acquainted on the court during a fall preseason game with some heated trash talk.

Several months later, the two signed and sealed Hawaii recruits sat in UH basketball coach Gib Arnold's office and laughed about it.

Based on their comfort level with the UH coaches, Blakes and Biggs signed with UH before taking an official campus visit. They saved that for the past weekend, and got a taste of what will be in store for them in a matter of months as full-fledged Rainbow Warriors. Their mothers came, too.

Blakes and Biggs seemed to enjoy their two-day stay — especially an Arnold-led surfing session in Waikiki on Saturday — and were anxious to return in July for summer school.

"It's the positive nature of the town. How supportive they are," said Biggs, who projects as a small forward. "It's beautiful out here. Just ready to come back, permanently."

"The atmosphere was just very peaceful. It's something I'm looking forward to," said Blakes, a combo guard. "I think it's going to be a good year."

Biggs, at a lean but legit 6-foot-7, and Blakes, at 6-foot-4, look the part of future contributors to the program. Biggs averaged 18.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a senior, while Blakes put up 22.4 points and 3.1 assists per game.

Though both possess athleticism, they acknowledged they'll have to get stronger heading into their freshman seasons, when UH looks to build on its 19-13 record from 2010-11.

One thing they already have is a bond, which was why it was surprising when they spoke of their near-incident.

"That's crazy, the first time we played we almost got into it over some madness," Blakes said with a head shake. "That's honestly when we got close. It was just a physical game at the time and you know how smack talking goes, it got carried away."

Knowing they'd be playing together in the islands helped patch up their on-court differences. The two struck up a friendship, along with fellow L.A.-based UH signee Ronnie Stevens of Serra High. Two postseason all-star games together helped cement it.

"After that first all-star practice, we just kind of bonded knowing that we were coming here," Blakes said. Biggs nodded.

While around campus they met future UH teammates, including California natives Bobby Miles and Trevor Wiseman, the latter of whom Biggs already had some familiarity with as an opponent.

Academics wasn't absent from their trip. Yesterday, strength coach Chris McMillian gave the two a guided tour of upper campus, showing the pair what they'd signed up for without any in-person feel.

Blakes was clearly impressed by the visuals, while Biggs had been to Hawaii in 2004 but hadn't seen any of campus. Both said they are on track to graduate and qualify academically into UH.

Nearing the end of their stay, basketball was clearly their focus again as they looked ahead to the fall.

"Me and Dillon are out here to cut down a net or two, man," Blakes said. "We're trying to at least take the team somewhere it hasn't been. Try to put the team on our backs and see where we can take it."

"We're strong competitors who like to win," Biggs added.

UH currently has one more scholarship left to hand out for the 2011-12 season. At least one unsigned prospect is scheduled to visit the Manoa campus this week.






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