Former Hawai‘i Hilo star point guards sign international pro contracts
Former University of Hawai’i at Hilo basketball point guards Mandi Kawaha and Darren Williams are headed across the pond to begin their professional basketball careers internationally in Europe.
Kawaha will be joining the Cardiff Met Archers Basketball Club in Wales while Williams is set to join the HydroTruck Radom basketball club in Poland.
Both student-athletes just recently wrapped up their Vulcans careers and graduated this past spring.
“A lot of people might have their ideas of what it takes to reach that pro level and just for myself to show that you can make it from UH Hilo, I think it’s really important and it’s an honor,” Williams said. “If you got a school that loves you and allows you to be you, that’s probably going to position you the best as far as showcasing yourself for the next level. I’m just glad that me, Mandi and Casey (Yamauchi) are all able to shed light on this.”
In addition to playing ball overseas, Kawaha will also be coaching and continuing her education by working toward a master’s in Sport Coaching at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
“Basically for the love of the game. It just felt like college and life went by so fast and I wanted to keep playing, even if I have to go halfway across the world,” Kawaha said. “I mean, I’m small, so just trying to show the younger generation that you can do it as long as you put your mind and work into it.”
The Cardiff Met Archers compete in the Women’s British Basketball League, the top-level women’s basketball league in Great Britain, with the season running from October through April.
“I just know Wales is known for castles. That’s pretty much all I know,” Kawaha joked.
The Hilo native (Hilo High School ’18) graduated from Hawai’i Hilo this past spring with bachelor’s in Kinesiology & Exercise Sciences and Communication after wrapping up a five-season career for the Vulcans. Kawaha was a three-time All-PacWest Team selection and set several program records including all-time marks for points (1,485) and assists (438).
After spending time playing in the Drew League this summer in Los Angeles, Williams announced Saturday he would be taking his talents to Poland this fall.
“I’m getting paid to play a game, that’s kind of funny,” Williams said. “Just getting the opportunity to do what I love and make a career out of it, I feel like I definitely got to take advantage of it. I just want to keep playing until my legs fall off.”
The HydroTruck Radom basketball club plays out of I Liga of the Polish Basketball Association with the season running from September through May.
“I talked to a few people and they just said, ‘cold weather,’ so I just envision snow,” Williams said of the move to Poland. “Probably just most nervous about the language barrier, but I’m excited to see another part of the world. There’s so much more out there.”
The Rancho Cucamonga, California native and Chaffey College product was a three-time All-PacWest Team honoree with the Vulcans and graduated this spring with a bachelor of business administration.