University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s basketball coach David Kaneshiro has signed guards Jordan Kealoha and Charlotte “CC” Rode, and center McKenzie Mangino to help rebuild a squad that lost eight players to graduation.
Kealoha, a 5-foot-4 junior point guard from Oahu’s Mid-Pacific Institute, played her first two collegiate years at Sacramento State. She came off the bench for coach Jamie Craighead, playing in 48 games over two seasons for the Hornets.
As a senior at Mid-Pac, Kealoha was named to the All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu second team. She also competed in judo, finishing as the state runner-up in her weight class as a senior.
“We are very happy that Jordan has decided to return to Hawaii to continue her basketball career,” Kaneshiro said. “She brings a lot of experience having competed at the Division I level. She is a quick guard who makes good decisions, shoots the ball well and is a tireless defender.”
Mangino, a 5-10 junior center out of Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California, was a two-year starter for the Bear Cubs, who reached the four-team California Community College Athletic Association state championships. Santa Rosa, the Big 8 Conference co-champion, finished 27-7.
Two years ago, Santa Rosa captured the state title.
Mangino, who attended Ursuline High School in Santa Rosa, averaged seven points and five rebounds per game for coach Lacey Campbell’s squad. She was considered one of the top defensive players in the conference as well as a strong rebounder.
Mangino also earned academic all-conference honors.
“McKenzie is a very skilled, smart, tough post player,” Kaneshiro said. “She is an excellent passer, can shoot from the perimeter and has a great understanding of angles and positioning when defending the low post.”
Rode, a 5-8 junior combo guard out of Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz, played two years for coach Laura Hughes and was a key contributor last season on a team that finished 26-6 and advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association Region I championship game.
Rode, who grew up in Albuquerque, N.M., and attended El Dorado High School, averaged five points, four rebounds and three assists per game last season at Cochise College. She had a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio while shooting 48 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range.
“CC is a very good all-around guard,” Kaneshiro said. “Although her team didn’t need her to be a big scorer — they had four players sign with Division I schools in the spring — she has shown that she can shoot the 3, handle the ball and make good decisions. She’s also an excellent defender who can guard multiple positions on the floor.”
The trio of Kealoha, Mangino and Rode will join Alexa Jacobs, a 5-7 freshman point guard, as part of Kaneshiro’s 2013 recruiting class.
Jacobs, who signed in the fall, averaged 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds at Mountain Ridge High School in Phoenix. She was a three-time all-state and all-region player, and she was recruited by a handful of Division II schools.
“Alexa had an outstanding high school career,” Kaneshiro said. “She’s a very skilled player who can score the ball and plays really tough defense.”
The Vulcans coach is in the process of signing an additional four players to fill out the team.
Kaneshiro, starting his fourth season at UH-Hilo, lost eight seniors to graduation following a 13-11 overall record in 2012-13, including a 10-7 mark in the Pacific West Conference. The graduating seniors included Kirsten Shimizu, Kirsty Imai, Jameia McDuffie, Natalie Mata, Shannon Rousseau, Jazlyn Afusia, Elise Spain and Jazz Corpuz.
The returnees are senior-to-be Kamie Imai, junior Thea Hanato-Smith and sophomore Mandi Lum.
Imai, a 5-9 guard/forward and the lone returning starter, led the Vulcans in scoring (10.9 points per game), rebounds (7.3 rpg) and assists (83), and she was second in steals (30) while earning second-team All-PacWest honors.
“We had a really good nucleus with those graduating seniors,” Kaneshiro said. “We’ll miss them, but I think the new group coming in is very similar, a good character group.
“The new group is a little bigger and a little more athletic than the previous group. The new group is also strong academically and has a lot of the intangibles that we’ll need to be successful. Still, we’re basically going to be a whole new team and have to build from there.”