The best (and rarest) moments in our lives as sports fans are those where we get to think, "I was there…."
For mid majors, that might be something as simple as "when we won the first bowl game." Or maybe even "when we beat that nationally ranked team." For big programs it's usually something closer to "when we won the BCS game" (or if you're Alabama, "when we won the national title.") I mean these are what we live for right? Why we cheer so hard, and laugh and cry and live and die? Just to say we were there.
For me, having been tied to the program my whole life, I tend to associate successes not necessarily by events, but by the individuals that made them happen. You have eras. The Carl English era. The Colt Brennan Era. The June Jones Era. The best of these, of course, are the ones you don't necessarily see coming. June for example, was great, but more…muted? He was, after all, SUPPOSED to be as good as he was (especially considering all the money that we paid him.)
Carl though? He only played two games his freshman year before he got hurt and then exploded to average 15 and 19 points as a sophomore and then as a junior (the latter of which coincided with Hawaii's last NCAA tourney berth in 2002.) He was a slasher/scorer that hustled and bombed threes. And I loved it. We loved it. And then he left a year early and broke our collective hearts. So as much as Carl was an "I was there" type player, his time was marred by a decision to leave (I know this is selfish. I understand it's his right to decide to turn pro. Just expressing bitterness as a fan of the University.)
Colt, on the other hand, was the ultimate. He was the savior. The talent. THE guy. Transferring from Colorado and competing with Tyler Graunke (seems kinda silly in retrospect right?) Colt had it all and no one really even knew until after he beat Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl. The Undefeated season. The BCS berth. Just about every significant school and NCAA single-season passing record. The Boise comeback and then the Washington comeback. Hell even the "I'm coming back for my senior year" comeback. His was a career defined by "I was there" moments, which helps to explain why so many people (including me) still love him even now.
And so we arrive at Negus Webster Chan. The Missouri transfer who no one except the hardcore basketball fans here know about (and even then only about half of whom have ever seen him play.) And yet if you do even a LITTLE digging it's really easy to see that the hype is justified:
I mean really, Hawaii just doesn't get players like this (i.e. Big, versatile guys who can play multiple positions and handle the ball.) Especially not our basketball team. Looking back at the history of the program, the best three players were probably English, Savo and A.C. Carter. All guards and none over 6' 5. So how can you not get excited? Sure it may seem premature, and sure we won't get to see him for another year because of the ridiculous NCAA transfer rule, but it's never too early to start buying in. Like discovering that really awesome underground band BEFORE they get famous (ala Macklemore.) The ultimate "I was there" moment. "I was there" before everyone loved Colt. I rooted and cheered and told everyone he was going to be good before he actually was, and I was the first one. Isn't that the best? So I'm telling you now. Do your research and hop on. 2014 is going to be a magical ride.
Also, do yourself a favor and come out to watch him play during the summer league games. Him and Brandon Spearman are on the same team, which is sadly the only time that we'll ever have the pleasure of getting to see them on the court together (again, stupid NCAA transfer rule.)
Also as a side note, Garrett Nevels is the real deal. Raw but real. Can you imagine a triumvirate of Nevels, Spearman and Shamburger? And Jawato? AND Fotu? Oh man, 2013 is gonna be something special as well. And, just remember when people ask, I was there.