Alaska has emerging prospect in Hepa

Five scholarship offers have already found their way to 2018 Alaskan forward Kamaka Hepa, whose skill level and feel for the game will warrant a lot more attention over the coming years.

The odds of a high major D-I basketball prospect coming from Barrow, Alaska aren’t high.

The northernmost city in the United States, Barrow’s population is less than 4,500 and has just one high school, leaving limited opportunities for someone to play competitive basketball.

You get in and out of Barrow through plane, which means Barrow High School has to jump on a flight in order to play a game.

That’s why the story of Kamaka Hepa is so intriguing. The 2018 prospect showed up to the Double Pump Best of Summer Tournament with his Team 907 AAU squad last week and established himself as one of the top forwards on the west in the class.

At 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds, the Barrow native obviously has size to go with long arms, but despite the fact that he’s probably had less competitive reps than almost anyone else in the 2018 class, the rising sophomore has a very good feel for the game.

“There’s not much to do there so basketball is all I do,” Hepa says. “There’s no AAU up there. In-season basketball is all we have. Pretty much all I do is train until high school season starts.”

If there’s a debate that feel for the game is bred and not born, Hepa makes a convincing case otherwise. He’s a very good passer who almost always makes the right pass. Hepa can hit jumpers and rebounds, but it’s his court vision and versatility from the high post that makes him especially intriguing.

“This biggest thing I do well is my versatility,” Hepa said. “I can go down low against smaller guys and can face up big guys who try to guard me.

“I need to work on my ball handling because at the next level I want to play the three and right now I’m kind of a stretch four. My ball handling is something I really need to work on if I’m going to achieve that goal.”

Hepa listed offers from Grand Canyon, Northern Colorado, New Mexico, San Francisco and Portland with interest from Gonzaga, Colorado, and Davidson.

The rising sophomore grew up with a favorite team.

“Right now my favorite college team is UCLA; that’s kind of my dream school,” Hepa said. “I like that they’re close to home. Steve Alford used to coach at New Mexico and I like how he coached there.”

Comfort level will be important to Hepa when he goes through the recruiting process.

“I want a good school that I can feel at home with a good coaching staff,” he said.


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