The Mufi Hannemann Basketball Jamboree was established as an annual showcase for local female basketball players who had few ther opportunities but nonetheless place proportionately far more players in NCAA schools. The program, which began in 1994 as a small step toward gender equity, has since featured just about every top high school and college payer in Hawaii at one time or another.
The format for the one-day event generally features single-elimination contests between four and eight teams in two age groups: 12 years old and under and 14 years old and under. The high school players from across the state are divided into eight teams, their ranks complemented with former collegiate all-stars. These teams then compete in single-eliminations games, playing up to three games until the Jamboree champion is crowned.
Team Aloha was established in 2006 by Mufi Hannemann. It was an outgrowth of the annual girls Basketball Jamboree he had been sponsoring since 1994 as the state’s only post-season showcase of girls high school hoops. Long-recognizing the caliber of girls athletics in the islands, and that many girls were going on to play college basketball at the top levels, he had dreamed of someday taking a team of the Jamboree all-stars to compete against the best the mainland had to offer.
His dream came true in 2006, when he formed a girls team to compete on the mainland. Dana Takahara-Dias, former coach of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine basketball team, was serving as an administrator for the Hannemann administration and agreed to coach the squad. The first team, consisting of such all-stars as Jamie Smith of Iolani, Shawna and Shaena Kuehu of Punahou, Iwalani Rodrigues of Roosevelt, and Keisha Kanekoa of Honokaa, among other standouts, participated in the Nike Storm and Swish Basketball Tournament in Santa Barbara in April 2006. An undefeated Team Aloha earned the tournament title and individual players attracted the attention of college scouts from California to Indiana.
The next Team Aloha was formed in 2008, and this time headed to Phoenix for the Arizona Elite Basketball Tournament held on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. That team of underclassmen, consisting of such all-stars as Kalei Adolpho of Molokai, Kamie Imai of Waiakea, and Kanisha Bello of Kamehameha-Hilo, earned the consolation bracket title with one loss against five wins.
Team Aloha returned to Tempe in 2009 and again 2010, each time representing Hawaii with outstanding athleticism and sportsmanship. The Arizona Elite attracted hundreds of college coaches and scouts from throughout the western United States, and Hawaii’s girls earned much attention and praise. As has become a tradition, the team consisted of underclassmen, in order to expand the girls’ college recruiting opportunities.
Team Aloha in 2011 and 2012 participated in the prestigious Tournament of Champions Los Angeles, held at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. This event is a key stop on the recruiting trail for college coaches and scouts from throughout the western United States, many of whom have successfully recruited Hawaii players over the years. Team Aloha 2013 played in the Arizona Elite Classic in Tempe. Overall, Team Aloha has won 75 percent of its games. And, in 2014, Team Aloha ran the table in Arizona and went undefeated to win the tournament!