The decade of the 2000s saw the best University of Hawaii men’s basketball teams in program history. The success of the Rainbow basketball teams was due in large part to the Hawaii centers who quietly contributed defense and rebounding while the scorers received accolades. These are the top Hawaii Rainbow Warrior basketball centers in the 2000s.
3) Stephen Verwers
Stephen Verwers transferred to the Hawaii Rainbow Warrior basketball team prior to the 2005-2006 season. After a redshirt year, the 6′ 11″ center from Weatherford, Texas was the only player to appear in significant minutes at the position in both the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons.
Verwers logged 698 minutes and averaged nearly 2.3 blocks per 48 minutes for his Rainbow career. More importantly, Verwers anchored the post defense and provided a physical presence for Rainbow teams dominated by guards. Verwers had the best season of his entire college career in 2007-2008 with more than four rebounds a game and a 52.2% field goal percentage when he suffered a career-ending leg injury on Christmas day.
Verwers also achieved success in the classroom as an academic all-WAC selection in 2007. Because of his perseverance and dedication to the team, Stephen Verwers was one of the top Hawaii Rainbow Warrior basketball centers in the 2000s.
2) Petras Balocka
Petras Balocka was a 6′ 8″ center from Vilnius, Lithuana who played for the Hawaii Rainbow Warrior basketball team in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. Despite being undersized compared to the other centers in the WAC, Balocka logged 1182 minutes over two seasons. Balocka averaged more than 8 rebounds a game his senior season and finished his career with 369 total boards.
Balocka was known for stretching the defense past the high post on offensive and knocked down 13 treys over his two years as a Rainbow. Balocka’s grit and determination allowed him to compete with larger opponents and he was frequently assigned to guard the opposing team’s best post threat. Petras Balocka ranks as one of the top Hawaii Rainbow Warrior basketball centers in the 2000s.
1) Haim Shimonovich
Haim Shimonovich was a 6′ 10″ Israeli from Rishon LeZion, Israel who played for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors basketball team during the best years of the decade. Shimonovich played in nine games off the bench during the 2000-2001 campaign that saw the Rainbow Warriors as surprise entrants into the NCAA tournament as WAC conference champions.
In the 2001-2002 year, Shimonovich averaged more than 28 minutes and appeared in all 33 Rainbow games. He led the team in field goal percentage, rebounding, and blocks while providing a dominating defensive presence. Shimonovich was surprisingly athletic for a Rainbow center of his size and was third on the team in assists and steals over the 2001-2002 season.
The Rainbow basketball team made it back to the postseason with NIT appearances in both the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons thanks largely to Shimonovich’s dominance of WAC opposition. During his career, Shimonovich played in 101 games with career totals of 602 rebounds and 140 total blocks while shooting better than 49 percent from the field. He was a key reason the Rainbows made back-to-back NCAA appearances and two NIT bids. Haim Shimonovich is the top Hawaii Rainbow Warrior basketball center during the 2000s