O’Neal, from Los Angeles, will use his
6-8, 256-pound frame to anchor the Sea Warriors at the center
position. Alexandar “Sasha” Bojic, a 6-10 junior
from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, will also get some time in the middle
after red shirting all last year.
Coach Barnett said he is pleased with the quality of the inside
players and is hoping for a dominant rebounder and shotblocker
to emerge. He is also wary of injuries often suffered by the
men in the middle as they jostle for position and the ball, as
well as the lack of depth at both center and forward positions.
Forward Audrius Pecuikas, a 6-8 junior from Joniskis, Lithuania,
earned PacWest Conference Honorable Mention last season. Pecuikas
led the team in rebounds (6.7 per game), and blocked shots (1.2
per game), and also averaged 9.7 points per game.
Princeton Jiles and Aleksander Jakovljevic of Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
will also spend time at forward. Jiles will play his senior season
at HPU after helping to guide Drury University, in Springfield,
Mo., to the Heartland Conference Championship last year.
Team captain Dante Sykes, who won the Slam Dunk Contest at
Halloween Hoopla Oct. 28, will lead the squad from the guard
The 6-2 senior started 20 of 26 games last season and brings
experience and a solid defensive presence to a young team.
Dante is doing his best to provide an example and to be a leader,” said
Barnett. “It is my hope that he will emerge as a leader
for this year’s team because he has the experience of playing
in the conference. He, as a senior, knows more than any other
player what is in front of us.”
The other six guards on the roster are each playing in their
first season as Sea Warriors. Gene Barnes transferred to HPU
as a junior after playing for NCAA Division I powerhouse, the
University of California Los Angeles.
Alex Swerzbin, also a junior, transferred from Clackamas Community
College, in Oregon City, Ore., where he averaged 16.7 points
and 8.8 assists per game. He was named to the Southern Region
All-Region Second Team and All-Star Team after leading the
conference in assists (229).
Stevie Johnson and Finis Harwell are junior transfers from
Santa Rosa Junior College and College of Alameda, respectively.
earned the team MVP award after posting 15.1 points, 4.6 assists
and 1.7 steals per game; According to Assistant Coach Kelly
Wells, he is the most athletic player on the team. Harwell
led his team
with 18 points a game and was named to the Bay Valley West
Conference First Team.
Sophomore Felix Gartner and freshman Ryan Walker make up the
rest of the Sea Warrior roster.
After a third-place finish in the PacWest Conference last season,
Barnett is looking to be competitive and compile a winning
are many variables with this team, and it is so early. I am very
cautious not to set goals that are not attainable,” he
said. “We have been picked last in the conference, and
I certainly hope we are a much better team than the viewpoints
of the conference coaches.”
Sykes hopes that the team will grow into a close-knit unit. “People
are a lot closer this year, you can feel a greater sense of team
chemistry with every practice,” he said. “We’re
all excited about this year, and that excitement will allow us
to build success on the court and get some wins under our belts.”
Barnett asked the HPU community to support the team by attending
games. “We have great people in our program and high expectations
of them as student athletes and as members of the University
community,” he said. “We want to represent the institution
in a positive and competitive way.”