The Aloha State is looking to the Evergreen State to find a new big man for its basketball team.
Caleb Dressler, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound double-double machine for Evergreen High School, has made his intentions known that he will sign a letter of intent to play basketball with the University of Hawaii.
“I went there Thursday for a visit. I loved the school, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the coach,” Dressler said. “I said, ‘This is it. This is where I’m going to play next year.’ ”
The Class 4A Greater St. Helens League player of the year last season, Dressler averaged double figures in scoring and rebounding, leading the Plainsmen to the league title and a berth to the Class 4A state tournament.
Dressler said he clicked with Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold, who led the Rainbow Warriors to 19 wins last season, his first with the program. Hawaii had won 10 games the previous season.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Dressler said.
Colleges cannot comment on verbal agreements. Dressler can sign as soon as Nov. 9.
That will mark the end of the recruiting process for Dressler, who said he was looked at by several more prominent programs, including schools from the Pacific-12 Conference.
But most of those programs asked Dressler to postpone signing in November and wait for the second signing period in the spring.
“If they really wanted me, they’d want me to commit early,” Dressler said. “Hawaii said, ‘We want you now.’ ”
Although many post players redshirt their first year in college — still a possibility for Dressler — he knows once he is on the active squad, he will get his chance to shine.
“You can go to a bigger school and not play. I’m not saying I’m not good enough (for the bigger programs), but I might not get an opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t want to sit on the bench and let it be a waste. I wanted to go to a place where I could influence the team.”
He also appreciates having the decision out of the way prior to Evergreen’s campaign.
“I can focus on the season. I won’t have to worry about if there is a scout here,” Dressler said. “Now I can focus on a state championship. That’s what our goal is.”
Technically, the team did make it to the state tournament, but Dressler said it did not feel that way.
Last season was the first for the opening-round games of the tournament to be at various locations around the state, rather than the Tacoma Dome. Only the elite eight make it to the dome.
Evergreen traveled to the Tri-Cities and failed to make it to the quarterfinals.
“It’s going to be a failure if we don’t get past where we were last year,” Dressler said. “I feel we’re a good team and we can do better than last year.”
As far as next year at this time, Dressler expects to be in Hawaii, adjusting to college life. He wants to study history, then become a teacher and a coach. He will be doing all that at a place that wanted him right away.
For a basketball player in search of a Division I scholarship, one might call that paradise.