Hepa gets first taste of EYBL, receives slew of college offers

April 22, 2016

Kamaka Hepa basketball

Kamaka Hepa

Barrow’s Kamaka Hepa of the Portland Basketball Club made his highly anticipated debut in the 16U Nike Elite Basketball Youth League last week in New York.

His first-year AAU team lost all three games, but the Alaska teenager came away a big winner with multiple scholarship offers.

Hepa became the first player in his team’s inaugural season and it took him one tournament to receive offers from Nebraska, Miami, Washington State and Utah.

“It brings me some confidence and motivates me to work harder,” Hepa told me, “because I know that even though I received those offers I have more potential and I can work harder, and hopefully receive more offers from other schools.”

The 6-foot-9 two-time Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year led the Class 3A Barrow Whalers to consecutive state championships in his first two seasons of high school before transferring last month to Class 6A Jefferson in Portland, Oregon.

Arguably the biggest reason he didn’t finish the school year at Barrow was so he could enroll at Jefferson and play with the Portland Basketball Club, which secured a spot in the famed EYBL – the NBA of prep hoops.

The first session of EYBL play was in New York. The second session begins today in Indianapolis, Indiana. The third session is in Atlanta next month.

“This is honestly why I came out here, for the opportunity to face top competition week in and week out,” Hepa said. “That’s what I was looking for. It’s exactly what I wanted.”

Hepa’s dad, Roland, is at his son’s side, living with him in Portland and traveling to each stop on the EYBL tour.

“We know it’s a business trip, but in our off time we have fun,” Hepa said. “Our main goal, though, is to win basketball games.”

In New York, the Portland Basketball Club finished 0-3 after losing 69-68 to Team United, 66-62 to Mokan Elite and 69-48 to Mac Irvin Fire.

“We did pretty well for our first time actually playing together in a tournament,” Hepa said. “We had really good camaraderie that had a lot to do with us being connected.”

He thought he matched up well with opposing players and had no problem adjusting to the speed of the game.

“I believe my best attribute right now is my passing skills,” he said.