Molokai Athletes Nominated as National All-Stars
Nearly 1,000 of the nation’s top high school boys and girls basketball athletes are nominated each year to play on one of two all-star teams for the McDonald’s All American Games. This year, two players in state were nominated for the event that in the past has included basketball legends like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. Those two players are both Molokai High School (MHS) students — seniors Shaniah Lopez and David Rapanot will have a chance to make the final roster.
“We are delighted that Shaniah and David were chosen to continue in the selection process to compete in the McDonald’s All American Games,” said Erlinda Rosario, a McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii owner and operator, in a press release. “We wish them the best as they move forward in the selection process, and we hope they make the final team rosters and do Hawaii proud.”
The nomination process involves the input of school head coaches, athletic directors, school principals and members of the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Committee, the press release states. Out of 984 athletes nominated, 24 boys and 24 girls will be selected to play in the 37th Annual Boys Games and 13th Annual Girls Games in April at Chicago’s United Center. All proceeds from the games will go towards the Ronald McDonald House.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Hoku Haliniak, MHS athletic director. “Both athletes are involved with two or three sports and they portray the leadership qualities of an athlete. I’ve seen what you want to see out of all athletes in them.”
When Lopez found out she had been nominated last week, she said she was “stoked.”
“I was excited and shocked that she was selected,” said mother Shawna Lopez. “She’s done a huge accomplishment.”
Though Shaniah suffered a knee injury earlier this season, tearing her ACL, Shawna said she will soon be undergoing surgery and would be OK to play if selected for the Games in April.
Shaniah began playing basketball at a young age and continued through high school. Shawna said Shaniah has been considering playing basketball for the University of Hawaii in hopes to play professional ball in the future.
While Shaniah’s coach didn’t return a request for comment, boys basketball coach Carl Adolpho Jr. said this nomination is a great chance for both players to compete with higher skilled athletes and be exposed to college scouts, bettering their likelihoods for receiving a college scholarship. For Rapinot, Adolpho said it will show his natural talent.
“[David] was an exceptional player to begin with,” said Adolpho. “He came in already playing at a high level and he’s always been a leader, leading by example.”
Rapanot’s father, Scott Rapanot said David’s motivation growing up has been to be better than the best.
“When he got that [nomination] he was so excited,” said Scott. “There’s a hall of fame wall [at school] for students who have accomplished things. He’s wanted to be on that board and he’s proud to be recognized–maybe the next name on that board.”
David plays basketball, baseball and football for the Farmers. Although he’s played basketball since childhood, Scott said baseball is his “true love” and plans to pursue that in college. However, he said this is a good opportunity for David and enjoys seeing his successes.
“I always tell everybody I thank the man upstairs every day for such a gifted kid,” said Scott. “I’m just proud to have him as a son, not for all his accomplishments, I just love my son.”
According to the All American Games webpage, the selection committee, comprised of high school analysts, prep scouts, high school newspaper reporters and basketball coaches, will narrow down their selection based on players they feel are most deserving. The final selection will be aired on ESPNU, Jan. 29 at 1 p.m. Hawaii time.