• Mufi Hanneman-Midweek's Island Matters

Brandyn Akana, Kahuku Role Model


Kahuku High School earned its very first Division I state championship by besting Punahou in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association boys basketball tournament — and well-deserved congratulations go to coach Brandyn Akana and the Red Raiders.

Kahuku is loaded with talent, but talent alone is not enough to guarantee a title. It’s also worth noting that three of the Red Raiders’ key players — Jessiya Villa, Daniel Fotu and Samuta Avea, who’s headed to Eran Ganot’s Rainbow Warriors next year — played elsewhere last season.

While he’s far too modest to accept credit for the Red Raiders’ success, Akana deserves a special mention. For most of his athletic career, he’s performed in the shadow of his talented older brother Jarinn, a former all-state basketball player from Molokai High School who started for the Rainbow Warriors then went on to become an NBA scout and assistant coach, and is now a top-flight sports agent for NBA players. Brandyn was no slouch himself, as a star baller for the Farmers and BYU-Hawaii, and as a college-level assistant coach.

Brandyn’s success speaks to his character, humility and integrity. In particular, I thought he handled the UH basketball ordeal under Gib Arnold with grace and class. He quietly walked away, never pointed fingers or groused about it, privately or publicly, even though he had ample reason to do so, given there were other people involved. And even when Arnold was granted a financial settlement, Brandyn never complained or exclaimed, “What about me?”

That’s why he’s so respected and well liked by his players and the community, and why the student-athletes were able to put together a championship season. He’s an excellent coach, without a doubt, but his character and example are what inspire players to perform. Brandyn and his wife Joselyn, a former UH volleyball star of coach Dave Shoji, are role models on and off the court in what they stand for and how they carry themselves. He is the epitome of an ideal coach and mentor, and we can expect to hear more great things from him in the years to come.

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#BrandynAkana #JessiyaVilla #DanFotu #SamutaAvea

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