Texas Longhorns freshman Kamaka Hepa might be the nation’s best player that nobody is talking (enough) about.
The Alaska native dominated the local competition in high school en route to back-to-back state titles while on the path to elite status, however, Hepa didn’t enjoy the same level of exposure that many of the nation’s top prospects receive. In fact, in an effort to gain that exposure, Hepa and his family uprooted and moved to Portland, Oregon to attend Portland Jefferson High School in hopes of proving that Hepa’s name belonged in the elite prospect conversation.
His game certainly backed the move.
As a senior, Hepa again put up impressive numbers. After averaging a double-double, he was named the Gatorade Player of The Year in Oregon and later added an arguably even more notable honor in being selected to the Team USA U18 team.
In the months since Hepa arrived on campus, the most notable development has been the physical change from working with Longhorns strength coach, Daniel Roose.
2017-2018: 16.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 6.3 BPG, 3.5 APG
“In eight weeks, he probably had the biggest physical change of anyone on our team.” Said Smart. “If you look at his before and after picture, it’s pretty amazing what our strength coaches and Kamaka have done with his body.”
“He’s made a lot of shots since he got here,” Smart added. “We expect him to continue to make a lot of shots. That’s one of his specialties, but he’s also a very cerebral player.”
Hepa will have the perfect opportunity as a freshman to adjust to the college game, as he is set to play a pivotal role off the bench for Smart. Up to this point in his career, Hepa has had to earn every bit of success he’s enjoyed. Growing up in Barrow, AL, a small town in which the population is just over 4,400, Hepa wasn’t exactly on a fast track to collegiate or professional basketball success and exposure.
Nevertheless, after dominating one stage, Hepa adjusted, moved south to Oregon to make the most of his recruitment, and proceeded to dominate yet again en route to becoming another highly-touted Texas signee. You can expect that same work ethic and determination during his time on the Forty Acres.
At 6’9, Hepa has great court vision and passing ability. He can spread the floor with a balanced attack down low and a strong perimeter game.
As he gains experience off the bench he should prove to be a reliable weapon for the Longhorns as he adjusts and finds his role within the offense.