Hilo High senior Jalen Carvalho was a shooting star on the basketball court, leading not only the league but also the state in scoring with an average of 28.9 points per game, and displaying an improved all-around skill-set that made him a center of attention.
The 6-foot-3 shooting guard impacted the Big Island Interscholastic Federation with an offensive assault of other high averages: 44 percent shooting, including 40 percent (62 of 129) from 3-point range, 8.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game. When he attacked the rim, he buried free throws at an 82 percent clip.
He couldn’t carry the Vikings to a third straight trip to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament. Konawaena relied on its depth on both ends of the floor and smothered Hilo 68-42 in the BIIF semifinals. Carvalho scored 13 points, but still left an impression.
Carvalho was named the BIIF Player of the Year in Division I by the league’s coaches, beating a field of other worthy candidates.
“I’m really honored and humbled getting player of the year,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without the coaching staff, my teammates and help of our supporters.
“This is a next step where I want to be. I’ve just got build off that and keep getting better and better, be the best I can be and go to college and play ball.”
BIIF champion Kona placed two players on the first team: senior guard Brandon Awa and senior forward Jonah Bredeson. League runner-up Waiakea had the other two: senior center Lucas St. George and senior guard/forward Dillon Rellez.
Last season, Carvalho hurt his left foot and the injury hampered his play. He wasn’t recognized as a junior; Carvalho made the second team as a sophomore in 2012. St. George and Rellez were on the East division’s first team last year while Awa and Bredeson were on the West division’s second team.
Carvalho’s scoring tag-team partner, senior guard Austin “Audie” Dante, received honorable mention as well as sophomore point guard EJ Narido. Dante, who wasn’t recognized last year, led Hilo with 16 points against Kona in the BIIF semifinals.
There’s no description to what the player of the year is, either the most outstanding or valuable, on the voting ballot. But first-year Hilo coach Chuck Vallero believed that Carvalho was a combination of both, and something else that set him apart from others — a big-time difference-maker.
“I’ve always thought the player of the year is someone other teams have to practice to stop. That other teams would specifically work on ways to stop that player,” he said. “Other teams had balance and really good players, but they had to change their defense in how they wanted to go after Jalen. Even though they did that, he was still able to get his points. That showed the type of player he is.
“It’s a tribute to the other coaches that they recognized that. Obviously, I can’t vote for my own player, but the other coaches saw his talent and recognized it. He was our main scorer but he still liked to share the ball and was unselfish. He led by example and was a good leader. I tried telling the other guys to emulate the things he did.
“He had a willingness to learn. He’s a very coachable player and willing to do anything. He’s a guy who didn’t make first or second team last year and now he elevates to player of the year. It’s a huge accomplishment on his part. He really developed with a lot of time and effort in the offseason. He’s going to have a really good college career.”
Colleges are also moths to Carvalho’s bright light. He’s got about a dozen offers on the table from junior colleges, three Division II schools in Hawaii (UH-Hilo, BYU-Hawaii and Chaminade), as well as a full-ride from Oregon Tech Institute, the NAIA school and home of 2010 Kohala graduate Brandon Bautista.
His parents Dave Carvalho, a social worker with the state Department of Heath, and Sandy, a teacher at Na Wai Ola public charter school, served as recruiting coordinators, making contact with coaches and sending video. The next national letter of intent signing date is April 16.
Carvalho credited his shooting upgrade, especially his fluid catch-and-fire delivery, to Hilo’s first-year coach and Bill O’Rear, a UHH Hall of Famer, turning what once was a weakness into the sharpest weapon in his toolbox.
“My strength was my pull-up jumper and 3-point shot. Toward the end of the season, I hardly attacked the rim. I mostly hit jump shots because I trusted myself to knock them down,” Carvalho said. “I never really had a jump shot. But coach Bill O’Rear came to practice and taught me to shoot better. I got comfortable and used it more and more.
“Coach Chuck helped me a lot with my shooting balance, dribbling and being smarter mentally. Over the summer, I went to one camp on Oahu and worked on my dribbling and pretty much all the other skills, shooting, passing, jumping, and putting in work day in and day out.”
Carvalho called missing a third consecutive appearance to states “heart-breaking.” But more than being the state’s top scorer, he finished his last season as a Hilo Viking with a different type of fulfillment.
In December at the St. Joseph Cardinal Classic, Carvalho put on a preseason shooting clinic with 47 points as Hilo defeated Waiakea 67-64 in the title game. He hit two buzzer-beaters, including the overtime game-winner, and buried 21 of 24 free throws.
His most memorable highlight was the last BIIF regular-season game against Kealakehe with the No. 4 and last seed on the line to the four-team playoffs. Carvalho scored 36 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and the Vikings toppled the Waveriders 80-74.
“It was the last game of the season, do or die. If we lose we’re not going to the playoffs. If we win, we have a playoff spot,” Carvalho said. “It was a close game and then we won by six. The best part of the season was being around my teammates, growing with the coaching staff and having fun.”
Jalen Carvalho, Hilo, 12, Guard
Brandon Awa, Konawaena, 12, Guard
Jonah Bredeson, Konawaena, 12, Forward
Lucas St. George, Waiakea, 12, Center
Dillon Rellez, Waiakea, 12, G/F
Player of the Year
Jalen Carvalho, Hilo
Coach of the Year
Donny Awa, Konawaena
Hilo: Austin Dante, 12, G; EJ Narido, 10, G
Keaau: Edgar Ventura, 12, F; Isaiah Segobia, 12, G
Kealakehe: Keanu Tilfas, 12, F/C; Jeffery Lewi, 12, G; Malu Akiona, 12, C; Shaden Lewi, 11, G
Kona: Chase Takaki, 12, G; Po‘okela Hanato-Smith, 12, G; Zane Gray, 12, F
Kamehameha: Pukana Vincent, 10, G/F; Micah Carter, 12, F; Kaeo Batacan, 10, G; Rylan Kiko, 12, F
Waiakea: Calvin Mattos, 9, G; Maikai Gahan, 12, G