Coming off the heels of a strong senior season in which he won the State Player of the Year for Oregon as well as towing the Jefferson HS Democrats to a runner-up finish in the state title game, Filipino-American Kamaka Hepa has added another feather in his cap after being named to United States Under-18 team that will participate in this year’s FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship in Ontario, Canada.
beyond blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of the USA U18 National Team???? thankful for the people who supported me throughout this process?? https://t.co/VzGunAJnqQ
— kamaka q. (@kamaka_hepa4) June 5, 2018
The 6’9″ Hepa made it to the final list of 12 in part to his versatility on both ends of the floor. Something that is preferred by the team’s head coach, Bill Self. Quoting the University of Kansas’ bench tactician: “I think the committee made some good selections, and I’m excited about working with this group. One of the things I think they bring to the table is versatility.”
Not only is Hepa adept in battling his way in the shaded lane, he also possess sound perimeter skills which includes being able to light it up from deep if needed to. On the defensive side of things, he is strong enough to mix it up against opposing bigs but is also mobile in covering positions on the perimeter.
In his final playing year of HS basketball, Hepa showed why he’s one of the blue-chip prospects entering college as he finished with per game averages of 16.5 points, 10.4 boards, 6.2 blocks and 3.5 assists. While the Democrats came short in the finals against Grant HS for the state championship.
Hepa’s solid play throughout the season has helped him earn the 2018 Gatorade State Player of the Year for the whole of Oregon, an award that he also won twice when he starred for the Barrow HS Whalers in his native Alaska during his freshman and sophomore seasons. In all, Hepa won state titles both in Alaska and Oregon in three out of his four seasons of HS basketball.
Aside from accumulating these awards in wrapping up a decorated prep career, Hepa was also part of a visiting Fil-Am Sports squad that saw action in last year’s National Basketball Training Center (NBTC)-National High School Championship tournament held here in the country. Among his highlights was a 27-point, 13-rebound and 7-block outing against local HS powerhouse San Beda Red Cubs, as well as dueling with Batang Gilas big Kai Sotto in the tournament’s All-Star game.
— Pong Ducanes (@ompongski) March 16, 2017
For his next act following the FIBA Americas Under-18 tournament, Hepa will be bringing his talents to the University of Texas Longhorns. He is expected to contribute significantly for coach Shaka Smart especially in shoring up the Longhorn’s interior following the departure of slotman Mohamed Bamba.
Hepa and the rest of Team USA will open their bid for a fifth straight gold medal finish in the continental joust against the Dominican Republic on Monday, June 11 (PH time). Joining them in Group A are Panama and Puerto Rico. On the other hand, bracketed in Group B are: Canada, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador.