Chris Gaines, the University of Hawaii men’s basketball career scoring leader, died yesterday in Orlando, Fla., of a heart attack, according to former UH coach Riley Wallace. Gaines was 42 years old.
Gaines scored 1,734 points in a four-year career that included two trips to the National Invitational Tournament. John Penebacker is second with 1,519 points. Gaines also tops the program in field goals made and attempted, free throws made, free-throw percentage (.848) and 20-point games (33).
Gaines entered the program as one of the school’s most-touted recruits, having been Iowa’s Mr. Basketball his senior season at Waterloo West High. He lived up to the billing right off the bat, with 23 points against North Carolina in his debut. He averaged 17.1 points per game as a freshman and received honorable mention All-Western Athletic Conference honors.
Gaines averaged 16.3 points his sophomore season when the Rainbow Warriors changed coaches from Frank Arnold to Wallace and added Reggie Cross as an inside force, with both Gaines and Cross earning conference honorable-mention recognition.
With Cross back in Gaines’ junior season, the pair led Hawaii to its first postseason appearance in 15 years, a loss at California in the 1989 NIT, though Gaines missed a significant chunk of the season due to academic issues and received no All-WAC honors.
Gaines capped his career by leading the team in scoring for the third time (17.6 ppg) and leading the Rainbows to another NIT appearance, this time advancing to the third round with home wins over Stanford and Long Beach State before losing at New Mexico. Gaines was named to the All-WAC first team that season.