If this were a game of Risk, Gib Arnold just moved a piece from Europe through the Western U.S. and into Hawaii — or, at least, the spot where the islands would be on the game map.
The first-year Hawaii men’s basketball coach hopes that 7-foot USC transfer Davis Rozitis will fortify the Rainbow Warriors’ youngest unit once the Latvian sits out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.
Though lean at 215 pounds, Rozitis has upside as a skilled center with 3-point range.
Starting in 2011-12, Rozitis will have three years of eligibility. Ideally, the former Trojan will meld with true freshmen Bobby Miles (point guard), Bo Barnes (shooting guard), Jordan Coleman (small forward) and Trevor Wiseman (power forward) by the time they are all sophomores together.
"I really like the idea that all those guys are actually going to be together four years," Arnold said. "That excites me. If you break it down, you could say we’ve got a player in each position in that class, and that was one of the factors when we brought him in, is that you can grow with that group and that group can kind of develop together and come through the ranks together. It’s a nice piece to the puzzle."
Rozitis isn’t yet ready to excel in the American game — he scored two points and grabbed seven rebounds in 28 total minutes of action as a true freshman — but Arnold feels that he can be an asset before his time is finished.
"He’s a really good kid, and a bright student," said Arnold, who as a USC assistant helped recruit Rozitis there. "He didn’t play much for us … but a lot of that was the fact he was playing behind two really good players, two potential NBA players, in Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic. And he was a freshman, so he got freshman minutes. But I was able to watch his development, see him every day in practice, and see his growth. I just thought with another year of hitting the weights hard and further development, that in the future he could be a pretty good player for us."