Texas commit Kamaka Hepa dreams of being first native Iñupiat to reach NBA

Photo: Jon Lopez, Nike

Texas commit Kamaka Hepa dreams of being first native Iñupiat to reach NBA

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Texas commit Kamaka Hepa dreams of being first native Iñupiat to reach NBA

Kamaka Hepa is one of the most skilled bigs the state of Oregon has seen in recent years.

The 6-9 post had a very decorated list of schools after him including Oregon, Oklahoma, and Gonzaga.

“Texas and Gonzaga were both great schools, but both were really different,” Hepa said. “Gonzaga is in Spokane which is kind of a small place in the Pacific Northwest, and Austin, where the University of Texas is located, is really different.”

Hepa is headed to the University of Texas next year with his decision hitting close to home for him.

“The biggest thing for me was the coaching staff and the relationship they had with my family,” Hepa said. “I really liked both of the coaching’s staffs and appreciate the opportunity to be recruited by both of them.”

The 4.0 student relocated his junior season from Alaska to join the Jefferson Democrats in Portland, Ore.

“For me, the biggest thing was trying to get used to the different styles of play,” Hepa said. “Alaska is a little bit slower… they’re still really talented up there but there is just a different style of play.”

Jefferson is coached by Pat Strickland, who is in his 10th season. The Democrats won their first 6A basketball championship last season with the help of Hepa, who fit into his role perfectly.

Jefferson is known for its strong guard play, so the addition of Hepa in the post completed their unit.

A key plus in Hepa’s game is his ability to see the court exceptionally well.

Jefferson is currently 10-2 overall this season with only two losses suffered to California power Mater Dei and No. 1 Montverde Academy.

Hepa has aspirations to be the first Native Iñupiat in the NBA. Family and his heritage are very important to him.

“My family is from Barrow, Alaska, and my dad is from Hawaii,” Hepa said. “My Iñupiat heritage supports me a lot.

“The community up there supports me even though I did decide to move away, they continue to support me. Regardless of where I go, I know I am going to have their support.”

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