Former Washington Huskies and current Hawaii Rainbow Warriors running back Willis Wilson drowned near Honolulu on Saturday.
Hawaii Athletics broke the news.
Former Huskies star and current Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas mourned his friend on Twitter.
In a statement on the Rainbow Warriors' official website, football coach Norm Chow said:
We are very saddened by the news of Willis' passing. He was a very fun-loving young man, who was well-liked by his teammates. He was an exciting football player who came to us from the University of Washington and whom we felt would help us at running back. He overcame some obstacles in his life and he was the perfect lesson to our team to never quit. Our thoughts and prayers are with Willis' family during this difficult time.
Stephen Tsai and Michael Tsai of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wilson was with a group of friends wading in shallow water on early Saturday morning. Those friends became concerned after the water became choppy. They noticed Wilson was missing at around 4:30 a.m., and the Honolulu Fire Department and Coast Guard were called to the scene.
Wilson's body was recovered a few hours later.
Hawaii Athletic Director Ben Jay said the football team will have a moment of silence before the Rainbow Warriors take on Army Saturday night.
Wilson had spent the first three years of his college career at Washington. While redshirting his first season in Seattle, he won the Brian Stapp Special Teams Scout Player of the Year.
The Lakewood, Wash., native didn't see the field during his redshirt freshman season, but he did play in four games during his sophomore year. He ran for one yard on one carry against San Diego State in Washington's first game of the season.
Prior to 2013, Wilson followed in his father's footsteps and chose to transfer to Hawaii, where he walked onto the football team. He had yet to appear on the field for the Rainbow Warriors this year but was on the travel squad for the team's first three games.
Wilson was 21.