Sensley-sational Summer Hoops

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - July 15, 2009
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Derrick Low

Have you ever had the conversation that starts with “Whatever happened to?” Sure, you have. Wondering whatever happened to our favorite former local sports stars is a common question.

If you’re a local basketball fan, you can find at least some of the answers in one place this summer.

That place is the Manoa Recreation Center, where dozens of former local college and high school stars gather twice a week to play the game that once made them household names. The men’s league is the NCAA Summer League; the women’s league is known as the D.ONE Summer League.

Ever wonder what happened to former University of Hawaii star Julian Sensley? He’s here. So are Derrick Low, Bobby Nash, Bill Amis and a list of local hoop sensations as long as your arm.

Sensley and Low have two of the most intriguing “whatever happened to?” stories.

The 6-foot-9-inch Sensley, who recently scored a game-high 46 points in a summer league game, turns 27 years old next month, and is still hoping to get that cup of coffee in the NBA. Staying healthy since leaving UH after his senior season in 2006 has been his biggest issue.

Sensley has battled neck and ankle injuries during his post-Hawaii career. He played briefly for European teams in Belgium, Italy and Spain, but failed to stick with any of them.

This past year he signed with the NBA Development League (aka the “D League”), playing for both the Colorado 14ers (interesting nickname, huh?) and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, where he ended up averaging more than 10 points a game. The Vipers - affiliates of the Houston Rockets - are located in Hidalgo, Texas, near the southernmost tip of the Lone Star State.

Meanwhile, Low - the former standout from Iolani and Washington State - also has his sights set on the NBA. At 23, the 6-foot-1-inch point guard played in both Australia and France this past season - and both sites provided much to talk about.

He started the year for a team in Sydney, where he was averaging more than 19 points a game. But then the team owners ran into financial problems and couldn’t make payroll. Low picked up his sneakers and moved nearly halfway around the globe before signing with a team in Rouen, France, where he ended up averaging 9.8 points a game.

If the name Rouen sounds familiar to you history buffs, it’s because that’s where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

The NCAA Summer League plays its games on Thursday and Saturday nights in Manoa and is definitely worth a stop by for fans young and old alike.

The same is true of the D.ONE women’s league on Tuesday and Saturday nights, also in Manoa. That’s where you can find former college stars Nani Cockett, Brandy Richardson, Rae Self, Becky Hogue and Brittney Aiwohi, among many others, playing right alongside current college stars such as Jamie Smith and both Shaena and Shawna Kuehu.

Smith, the former Iolani all-state star, had an incredible first season this past year at UNLV. Recognized as one of the top freshman players in the nation, she finished with a scoring average of more than 10 points a game while also pulling down almost 10 rebounds a contest - thus averaging nearly a double-double every time she took to the court!

Shaena Kuehu also had an amazing freshman year at Idaho. The 5-foot-9-inch guard literally rocked the Western Athletic Conference in her rookie season, leading first-year players in the conference in scoring (10 points a game), rebounding, field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage.

Her twin sister Shawna is hoping to create similar magic for the University of Hawaii Wahine this next year. Shawna, who first signed with the University of California after being the three-time Hawaii state player of the year from Punahou, sat out this past year. She’ll play her first college ball this upcoming season at the Stan Sheriff Center.

You can get your first glimpse at her - and renew old basketball acquaintances on both the women’s and men’s side - three nights a week in Manoa.

See you there!

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