University of San Francisco basketball signee Josh Kunen plays for the Australian national team. (Courtesy / USF Athletics)

USF Dons basketball signs three to Letters of Intent

New head coach Kyle Golden adds Ryan Rapp, Isaiah Hawthorne and Josh Kunen

New University of San Francisco head men’s basketball coach Todd Golden — who took over for the Washington State-bound Kyle Smith in March — was able to put the finishing touches on his first signing class on Wednesday. That’s when he inked former Pacific commit Isaiah Hawthorne — a three-star wing out of Tracy High School — to complete what is now a three-man class.

Joining Hawthorne is a pair of Australian products in Josh Kunen and Ryan Rapp, continuing Smith’s tradition of mising the local with the international. While Hawthorne is a well-known local commodity, the two Aussies are intriguing pieces who could have major upside, but may also need a bit of development.

Kunen, a versatile 6-foot-9 forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, was a part of the same Sudanese community in Australia that has produced Thon Maker. He played his high school basketball at the Center For Excellence, where he helped win the Australian School Championships in 2017. That season, he averaged 11.4 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per contest while dishing out 3.2 assists and shot 52.27 percent from the field.

Playing for Victoria at the Australian U20 Championships, Kunen averaged 6.7 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per contest while shooting 42 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free throw line as he helped his squad win gold.

“Josh is a combo forward with great length and natural feel for the game,” Golden said in a release. “He’s gained valuable youth experience playing within the Australian National Team program, as well as attending the Centre of Excellence in Canberra. He also will be playing for The Australian Emus squad for the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup this Summer in Greece. He fits the mold of an interchangeable forward, and has the ability to defend multiple positions.”

Ryan Rapp, a late bloomer, is a 6-foot-5 point guard with roots in the Bay Area, and a deep basketball pedigree. Rapp was born in the United States — Glendora, California, to be precise — and his father Tim, a Bellarmine Prep product, still ranks as the No. 5 scorer all-time in UC San Diego men’s basketball history. He went on to play basketball professionally in Australia for the Albury Bandits.

Rapp’s aunt, Jessica Foley, played basketball for Duke, went to the Final Four and played in the national championship game twice. Foley’s 3-pointer in double-overtime on Jan. 3, 2004 against UCONN ended a 76-game regular-season winning streak for the Huskies. She, too, went on to play professionally in Australia in the WNBL, and represented Australia in the U22 World Championships.

Smith, before he departed for Washington State, described Rapp as a Steve Blake-type guard who is adept at passing. Long and rangey, he’s got more physical tools than departing senior point guard Frankie Ferrari, who used his quickness and basketball IQ to supplement his limited range on defense.

In Australia, Rapp played for Mazenod College and helped guide the Nodders to a 2017 Associated Catholic College (ACC) league title for the first time in school history. He was the team captain for the Nodders his senior season, and helped guide them to a second-straight title. He earned First Team All-ACC honors in 2017 and 2018, and was named the team MVP both seasons.

On the club circuit, Rapp played for Dandenong Rangers in Victoria’s Junior Basketball League, where his team won four state titles and three classic championships. He was on the 2018 Youth U23 starting point guard.

Hawthorne comes to the Dons from a strong local AAU program in Team Arsenal, and was rated as a three-star prospect by both Rivals.com and 247sports.com. A 6-foot-8, 180-pound wing, Hawthorne had offers from Nevada, UC Davis, Montana, Utah State and Pacific. In NorCalPreps.com’s final 2019 rankings, Hawthorne was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in Northern California, behind San Leandro’s Keshad Johnson (San Diego State) and Sheldon big man Joshua Morgan.

A four-time letter winner, Hawthorne averaged 13.8 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game in his high school career. As a senior, Hawthorne was named team captain and helped guide the Bulldogs to an 18-9 record while averaging 19.2 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game. He shot 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc last season en route to all-league honors.

As a junior, Hawthorne averaged 19.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game en route to leading his team to a record of 18-8, including 8-2 in league play. That same year, Hawthorne was named First Team All-League and the TCAL League MVP after leading the Bulldogs to the program’s first league title in 42 years. During his sophomore year, Hawthorne averaged 8.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.

“Isaiah can play anywhere from the point guard to power forward position,” said Golden. “He’s multi-dimensional offensively as he’s able to create his own shot as well as create opportunities for others. He’s wise beyond his years in terms of his basketball IQ, and his style of play will fit in seamlessly with our team. We are very excited to add another Bay Area student-athlete to our program.”

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