HONOLULU - After two years out of basketball, Cienega High School product Brandon Burnett is going through a pretty involved learning process at Indiana State.
Things like getting stronger, working on his game and studying film.
And making sure to wear the right attire anytime a hula dancer invites him on stage.
Burnett, who appeared briefly in the Sycamores' 87-85 overtime win over Ole Miss on Saturday, actually had a bigger workout a night earlier when a dancer at the luau for the Diamond Head Classic teams chose him to join several other players on stage.
"I tried to move my hips like they do," Burnett said. "It was kind of nerve wracking at first but it was a good experience."
Indiana State coach Greg Lansing approved. Sort of.
"Other than not having a belt on - his pants were sagging a little bit - he did a great job," Lansing said.
Burnett hopes to appear more often on the Sycamores' stage soon. But after leaving Cienega in 2010, Burnett sat out the next season while attending Pima College to gain a course he needed to meet NCAA clearinghouse requirements.
In spring 2011, he attracted an offer from Indiana State thanks to his play for the Compton Magic travel-ball program, whose director, Etop Udo-Ema, also had UA freshman Gabe York and former UA forward Jamelle Horne.
Burnett moved to Terre Haute, Ind., and sat out last season.
"It's definitely a big change, especially weather-wise," Burnett said. "It's a small town and a good community - the people are very friendly - but it's definitely a different atmosphere than Tucson. I had to do some adjusting."
On the court, Burnett bulked up his 6-foot-6 frame to 225 pounds and, after virtually not playing at all in 2010-11, was able to practice with the Sycamores last season.
Now his task is different: Working hard and staying patient. Burnett has played in just five of the Sycamores' nine games so far, averaging 2.2 minutes.
"He wasn't in the rotation to start the year, but he's really stuck his nose in there in practice … and he's earned his minutes," Lansing said. "He's definitely going to play here during the league (games).
"He's a wonderful kid from a great family, and we're lucky to have him."
Sticking with it
Thanks to a 23-3 run in the first half, Indiana State took a 44-33 lead at halftime of the Diamond Head Classic's first game Saturday, but Lansing had a feeling it wasn't over.
"Once we got stops, we played awfully well at times in the first half," Lansing said. "Talking to the guys at halftime, we knew it was going to be a slugfest, we knew it was going to get muddied up a bit."
He was right. The Sycamores had to go to overtime before putting away the Rebels, while taking 24 free throws (making 18) in the process.
Manny Arop led Indiana State (6-3) with 27 points while Justin Gant had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Marshall Henderson had 27 points for Ole Miss.
The way San Diego State guard Chase Tapley was shooting Saturday, he might as well have been tossing the ball off his balcony at the Sheraton Waikiki.
He made 13 of 19 field goals to total 33 points and lead the Aztecs past San Francisco 80-58 in the event's second game Saturday.
"People say it's (like throwing) in the ocean," Tapley said. "I credit my coaches for getting me plays and my teammates for finding me open."
Tapley finished just three points short of the Diamond Head Classic scoring record, set by Dwain Williams of Hawaii in 2009.
"We did an awful job of understanding that it's about attempts with a guy like Tapley," USF coach Rex Walters said. "He had 19 attempts and good looks. You have to know where he is on the court at all times."
The Aztecs also received 10 points and eight rebounds from DeShawn Stephens.
San Francisco was led by Cole Dickerson, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Tim Derksen, a graduate of Amphitheater High School, had eight points in 34 minutes for the Dons while mostly defending SDSU's Jamaal Franklin, who had 11 points despite averaging 18.8 entering the game.
SDSU (10-1) will face Indiana State in a semifinal today while USF (5-5) will play a consolation-bracket game against Ole Miss.