Hall of Fame: Ki‘ilani Spencer-Vasconcellos (1997)

Exceptional court sense and a no-nonsense approach combined to make for one of the best basketball players to wear a buff ’n blue uniform. 

Ki‘ilani Spencer-Vasconcellos ’97 made her impact early, beginning with a starting role at guard as a freshman on a state championship team and culminating in her being named State Player of the Year and a state championship as a senior. 

The 5-foot-5 Spencer-Vasconcellos impressed opposing coaches and players as well as her own teammates for four years. Her own coach couldn’t say enough about the guard’s leadership. “It wasn’t limited to the court,” Shelley Fey said in a 1997 interview. “Off the court, she has a lot of heart and cares about her teammates.” 

Spencer-Vasconcellos averaged 9.6 points and four assists per game her senior year. In the three state tournament games, she had a combined 17 assists. She was all-ILH all four years and among the five players on the all-state team in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997. Spencer-Vasconcellos was the team’s catalyst, said Fey, who became the first woman to coach a girls’ basketball team to the state title (1994). Spencer-Vasconcellos’ athleticism also transferred easily to soccer where she played middle-fielder and forward. Spencer-Vasconcellos went on to play two basketball seasons for the University of Hawai‘i, but was hampered by leg fractures that caused her to retire after the 1999 – 2000 season. She returned to the game at Menlo (California) College in 2002, playing with rods in both tibia. 

As a senior, she averaged 16.3 points for the NAIA Oaks – a school record – leading the California-Pacific Conference in scoring. Spencer-Vasconcellos scored in double figures 21 of 25 games, ranked in the top five in 3-point goals and assists, and was named the Cal-Pac Most Valuable Player, the first for a Menlo player. She was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. Spencer-Vasconcellos has remained in the game, certified as a college-level basketball referee. She is the farmers’ market manager for Hamakua Harvest in Honoka‘a on Hawai‘i Island. 

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