UH men's basketball preview: Harry Rouhliadeff

Nov. 14—The Aussie native found keys to his shooting success through work and access, with the help of his father.

Hawaii basketball forward Harry Rouhliadeff was 14 years old when he discovered a long-distance love.

"I wasn't a shooter then, " said Rouhliadeff, recalling a youth basketball game in his native Brisbane, Australia. "The shot clock was running down. I had the ball. I had to shoot it. It went in, and from then on, I worked on my shooting every day."

Stephen Rouhliadeff, who worked at his son's high school, had the key to the gym. Every weekend, they would go there to work on shooting drills. Harry would launch shots from deep and deeper. Stephen would rebound and fire passes to his son, who would continue shooting from deep and deeper.

"I'd put up a lot of shots, " the younger Rouhliadeff said. "We would be there for hours every weekend. I owe a lot to my dad. He really helped me with my basketball. He played as a kid, but he only got into it when I got into it. He learned to love the game when I learned to love the game. I wouldn't be here today (as a Division I player ) without him."

In time, Rouhliadeff developed the tactile nuances of the sport.

"I studied the art of shooting, " he said of his search for the proper grip. "I loved the feeling of making a 3. I took the scientific approach to it, finding the groove in the ball and getting the right spin and flick in my wrists. It's something I've worked on the past few years with my father."

Rouhliadeff said he was always the tallest, the kid in the back row of class pictures, until he plateaued. "I stopped growing, " he said. "Everyone grew, and I was more like a guard."

And then, he added, "I grew again."

When he was 16, he shot up 7 inches to 6 feet 6. A year later, he sprouted to his current 6-9.

"That grocery bill wasn't nice to my mother, " Rouhliadeff said. "She had to provide a lot of food for me when I was growing. I was like a 'seconds' guy. I would always go back to eat more food after dinner. I owe a lot to her, as well."

The ball-handling skills as a 5-11 guard carried over to his new role as a forward. His toughness in the post came from playing Australian rules football. His vertical jump, block recognition and agility were developed in volleyball matches.

In December 2021, Rouhliadeff graduated from Villanova College, a private high school in Coorparoo, a suburb of Brisbane. In recruiting Rouhliadeff, the UH coaches viewed his skills as comparable to former UH forward Jerome Desrosiers' inside-outside ruggedness and Jack Purchase's deep-shooting touch.

Because Australia's schools operate on a January-to-December calendar, he competed in basketball until enrolling at UH in the summer of 2022. He was an amateur player with the Southern Districts Spartans of Australia's National Basketball League 1, a developmental league for the NBL, and trained with the NBL's Brisbane Bullets.

At UH, Rouhliadeff further improved his shot.

"We play with Molten balls back in Australia. Here we play with Wilson balls, " he said. "The grips and grooves are a little different. Molten's are a bit slimmer, so it's harder to grasp the ball. I love the Wilsons. They're awesome ; the Moltens, not so much."

Kamaka Hepa, a 6-11 forward who completed his UH career in March, served as Rouhliadeff's mentor last season. "He showed me the ropes, " Rouhliadeff said. "He showed me how to use my voice on the court, and flow as a player. He ran our offensive plays, and was a presence on the court. He really taught me how to be a defensive presence with my length (6-10 wing span ) and size. I really owe a lot to him."

Now Rouhliadeff is paying it forward, guiding UH's newcomers. "I've taken on a leadership role, " said Rouhliadeff, who also brought the first-year'Bows to bodysurf at Makapuu and Waimanalo.