Hawaii’s new head basketball coach Eran Ganot wasted no time tapping into his Australian connections he had developed while at St. Mary’s. Ganot’s first Aussie target was point guard Matthew Owies, who recently committed to the Rainbow Warrior program.
On the weekend of Sept. 18, Owies took a visit to Hawaii which sold him on the program. Less than a week later he announced his commitment.
“There were three things that put me over,” Owies explained. “The first was the culture that the coaches are building and wanting to play - one of hard work, family and sticking together and winning. I wanted to be a part of that culture. Also the facilities, the Stan Sheriff Center is amazing. And the people of Hawaii, everyone was so nice. It was really accommodating there and I felt really welcomed.”
The visit included a tour of the facilities and attending the Hawaii vs UC Davis football game.
“All the coaches were really accommodating and they’re such nice guys, they made everything easy,” Owies said. “We went on an island tour and got to see some of the island which was pretty cool and see how beautiful the place is because it’s amazing. We got to see one of the footy games when they played UC Davis, which was different to our footy over here, but it was still cool to see the atmosphere that the fans of Hawaii bring.”
Owies was also offered by Northern Colorado and had been recruited by Arkansas Little-Rock, Northern Iowa and Washington State.
“Hawaii just really stood out when I came on my official visit so that’s why I committed there,” Owies said. “I loved it.”
The travel to Hawaii will also be significantly shorter than traveling to the mainland. The flight is about 10 hours, which he said is “not too bad.”
“It’s a lot closer to home which is definitely a big plus for family to come over and watch and come and visit,” Owies said. “It makes it a lot easier for them so that was an added bonus.”
From Owies, Hawaii can expect a recruit with a high basketball IQ, a good on-ball defender and a player who lays it all out on the court with his toughness.
“I’ll be playing point guard,” Owies said. “My strengths are my quickness, toughness and smarts. I think I’m a really tough on-ball defender. I’m really quick and can use that to my advantage with my changes of pace. Being a smaller guard, you have to learn how to outsmart everyone and play with a high basketball IQ. I’m always watching clips, watching games, trying to take things from other people’s games and putting it into mine. I’m really a basketball junkie.”
Owies’s experience in the U17 world championships helped get him on the United State recruiting radar.
“I played in the U17 world championships last year and we lost to America in the grand final actually,” Owies said. “That got me a bit of exposure, playing at such a high level against the best players in the world. But there are also American guys here who know people back in the States with their experience.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Ganot continues to work his Australian pipeline. Schools that recruit the country frequently gain a reputation in the basketball community there. Schools like Saint Mary’s and Boise State have been able to make connections and build a rapport with basketball programs. Hawaii would have a definite advantage due to its location.
“There is quite a few schools that try to make that Aussie pipeline,” Owies said. “Saint Mary’s has had that with all the Aussies that came there like Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova. I guess (coach) sees that as an opening to try and better the situation in Hawaii because they’ve got a real big advantage with Australia being so close. With the success at schools like Saint Mary’s and Boise State, I think Australia is becoming more and more popular to recruit.”