Basketball has always been Jalen Carvalho’s passion, but his second sport fits in with his family’s motto: “In baseball as in life all of the important things happen at home.”
The 6-foot-3 Hilo senior with the smooth jump shot and batting stroke signed a National Letter of Intent on Tuesday with Oregon Institute of Technology to play basketball and baseball.
It was more than a formal signing ceremony at the school’s library. There were about 25 people in attendance, including his parents Dave and Sandy Carvalho, other family members and current and former coaches.
“It turned out great, picture perfect, having everybody here to support me. It was awesome,” Carvalho said. “I wanted to recognize my coaches and family.”
Carvalho spent a few minutes explaining his decision to sign with the Hustlin’ Owls, who gave him a full-ride scholarship, the largest package offered in basketball coach Danny Miles’ 43 years.
But a majority of the 30 minutes was devoted to recognizing all the coaches in Carvalho’s life, including his first baseball coach Kyle Shimokusu, youth basketball coaches Bruce Ferreira and Kimo Alameda, and his current Viking coaches, Chuck Vallero and Tony De Sa, basketball and baseball, respectively.
Shimokusu coached Carvalho in T-ball and Coach-Pitch. What he remembers most is not Carvalho’s playing ability, but his team-first attitude.
“He was head and shoulders above the other kids talent-wise,” Shimokusu said. “But he was a team leader. He was the kid making his team better. If a kid couldn’t catch the ball, he would always be encouraging others. He had the best team attitude around, even at that age. It all starts from the family.”
It’s the first time a school other than Kamehameha has hosted a signing ceremony. Alameda is Carvalho’s uncle and said it was no surprise there was a roomful of people, all invited to lunch by the family.
“It’s indicative of Jalen to be inclusive of family,” said Alameda, an assistant to first-year coach Vallero. “His mom’s family is from Ka‘u. That’s a small town where connections to family run strong.”
It’s the same thing at Oregon Tech, where Miles’ son is Matthew Miles, in his seventh year as the baseball coach.
On the baseball roster is outfielder Dominic Morris, a 2013 Konawaena graduate. Carvalho will have more local company when he joins basketball, which features Brandon Bautista, a 2010 Kohala graduate, who’ll be a senior, and Tyler Van Kirk, a 2012 Hawaii Preparatory Academy graduate.
As for small-town feel, Oregon Tech, located in Klamath Falls, Ore., has an enrollment of just under 4,000 students and fits right in. The Owls play in the NAIA and are in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.
Under Danny Miles, the Owls have won national championships in 2004, ’08 and ’12. He became just the second men’s basketball coach at a four-year level to reach 1,000 career victories on Feb. 1 with a 71-51 win over Corban. Oregon Tech finished with a 17-15 record, including a 9-9 CCC mark.
Carvalho led the state in scoring with a 28.9 points per game average, putting him in rare Big Island territory. His accomplishments and video highlights found their way to Miles’ desk. The longtime Owls coach also did a bit of character digging.
“I got video on Jalen early and I have a few friends in Hilo I trust and they said very good things about him,” Danny Miles said. “What I saw is that he can shoot the ball. I believe he can play two sports, and I’ve heard what kind of young man he is. All those things came into play. We have someone in the admissions office, who’s from Hilo, and said good things about the family. I like the whole makeup of the Carvalho family.
“We’re excited to have him. We’ve also got Brandon Bautista and Tyler Van Kirk. They’re winners as people and do great things on the court. Jalen will give us our third Big Island kid and we’ve had good luck with them.”
Ferreira coached Carvalho as a youngster and stuck him at point guard, where he first developed his ball-handling skills. The former Viking hoops legend pointed out that Carvalho’s sportsmanship has made a lasting impression.
His son Noah Ferreira is on the Waiakea basketball team, Hilo’s historic rival.
“After games, even though my son played for Waiakea he always had the respect to come and shake our hands,” Ferreira said. “That made me the happiest.”
Three years ago, Dave and Sandy Carvalho had a similar experience when their other son Jayce Carvalho, a 2011 Kamehameha graduate, signed a baseball scholarship with Hawaii Pacific.
Since then Kamehameha has made it a tradition of hosting signing ceremonies. It was the younger Carvalho’s turn on a Tuesday filled with sunshine and promise, and he credited his brother for being a role model.
Three years ago, Dave Carvalho called it a “proud parents’ moment.” Three years later, it was a proud sibling moment as well.
Jayce Carvalho’s career at HPU ended before it got off the ground because of a shoulder injury. He plans to transfer soon to UH-Hilo and head into social work like their dad.
His younger brother, who plans to major in psychology, has a 3.2 grade point average and a bright future at Oregon Tech, where he’ll get to play with Bautista for one season.
“It’s his time,” Jayce Carvalho said. “Jalen can pick me up. I think he’ll do great at Oregon Tech. All in all, it all starts at home.”
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