When Hawaii Preparatory Academy star senior point guard Kalan Camero suffered a serious concussion in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation basketball semifinals it was sudden, scary and upsetting for all involved.
The concussion sidelined Camero for the remainder of the BIIF playoffs and Hawaii State Athletic Association playoffs. The six-foot guard had been the catalyst during HPA’s undefeated BIIF regular season, averaging 18 points, five rebounds and five assists during his senior campaign.
Still reeling from the loss of Camero, HPA lost in the BIIF championship to Kohala, but battled back from the loss to capture the school’s first state title in basketball. Ka Makani’s run to the title marked the first time in four years that an unseeded team emerged with the D-II state crown.
While Camero was relegated to the sideline for Ka Makani’s title run with lingering concussion symptoms, the senior captain remained optimistic and contributed by letting his leadership qualities shine in a new way.
“It was definitely a growing experience. I loved playing with those guys, then all of a sudden I had to watch from the sideline,” said Camero. “When I got hurt it was hard but also really exciting at the same time to see the HPA community rally around our team. Watching our senior leaders thrive and the role players step up was incredible.”
While it was a struggle, Camero’s patience and caution about his future paid off. Camero has accepted a partial athletic scholarship to continue his basketball career at Menlo College in San Francisco, California.
“Menlo was the perfect fit,” said Camero. “I chose Menlo because it was in San Francisco and I have family and friends there. It’s not too far from home and it’s a small school too, like HPA.”
Camero said he also chose Menlo because of academics. He plans to major in business and sports management.
Menlo — which has an enrollment of around 750 undergraduates — plays in the NAIA Division II in the California Pacific Conference. Last year, the Oaks finished with a 9-18 (6-6) record.
The Waimea-born guard said he met with Menlo head coach Jon Surface this summer, and the fifth-year head coach told him they would like to use him as a combo guard, but with the majority of his minutes coming at the one.
“They needed guards and coach told me they have a few guys they think I can play well with,” said Camero. “They said my shooting, passing and shooting ability caught their eye.”
Camero learned a lot about himself during his time away from the court, but also learned a lot about concussions, a topic that has been at the forefront of conversations from youth to professional sports.
“That’s my brain. It’s what I have to depend on the rest of my life,” Camero said. “The athletic trainers, coaches and doctors told me playing was not a good idea and I agreed. I knew it was not something to take lightly.”
After the basketball season, Camero also was a contributor on the HPA baseball squad.
“I love baseball as well,” said Camero. “ I think it helped keep me focused in the offseason. I didn’t have time to mess around or do anything bad.”
The HPA graduate credited his family, teammates and coaches for helping him through the tough time. It is something he had become accustomed to during his time in the red and white.
“Coaches Fred Wawner and Dave Huntington have helped my game grow since my freshman year,” said Camero. “I think HPA does a great job with student-athletes and I have always had great leaders in the classes before me to look up to.”