comscore Former Kahuku star Jessiya Villa leaving Hawaii basketball program | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Former Kahuku star Jessiya Villa leaving Hawaii basketball program

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaii guard Jessiya Villa dribbles around guard Eddie Stansberry during the first day of fall basketball practice on Sept. 28.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Hawaii guard Jessiya Villa dribbles around guard Eddie Stansberry during the first day of fall basketball practice on Sept. 28.

A former Kahuku High standout is leaving the University of Hawaii basketball team.

Jessiya Villa said he has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal. He redshirted with the Rainbow Warriors this season after returning from a two-year church mission in Ghana.

“I’m officially a transfer,” Villa told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “In this business, in this realm, you just gotta keep yourself happy, and do what’s best, not only for yourself, more so for everyone. I respect (coach) Eran Ganot. I respect the staff. I respect the program, and love the program so much. Nothing will change that. I just understood that I didn’t fit in the plans that him and his staff had. And so, with that being said, definitely at this point, because I returned from a mission and had a little less than a year to recoup, I feel this decision will allow me to showcase what I have wherever I end up. Just to play. That’s all I want to do right now. Just to play.”

During his redshirt year, the 5-foot-11 Villa gained strength and served as a key member of the ’Bows’ scout team.

Villa was the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s 2017 Player of the Year after leading Kahuku High to the state championship. Villa averaged 17.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds during the 2016-2017 season.

Villa was born in Laie, but lived for five years in the Philippines, where his father played professional basketball. Villa then lived in West Virginia through his junior year of high school before transferring to Kahuku High for his senior year.

Villa is the third Rainbow Warrior to enter the transfer portal this week, following point guard Drew Buggs and center Dawson Carper. While Buggs and Carper are expected to move on to other Division I programs, Villa is likely to transfer to one of the three Division II teams in the state.

“That’s a big option,” Villa said. “I love the culture. This is where I was born and partially raised. Because it’s more family oriented, and because I fell in love with the state, that definitely would be a priority to stay. But you want to keep an open mind.”

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