Kamaka Hepa in search of redemption at Hawaii

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Kamaka Hepa. Photo courtesy of the University of Texas.

Former 4-star recruit Kamaka Hepa is looking to finally hit stride at Hawaii after three years as a Texas Longhorn.

Coming out of high school, Kamaka Hepa was labelled as a can’t miss prospect after being named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Oregon. He was included on the Team USA U18 roster for the FIBA America’s tournament which is a team that featured current NBA players Cole Anthony, Ayo Dosunmu, Quentin Grimes, Jeremiah Robison-Earl, Tyrese Maxey and Coby White.

However, things just never seemed to click for Hepa under Shaka Smart at the University of Texas. In three seasons in Austin, Hepa averaged just 2.4 points per game in very limited action. He only started two games over three seasons and appeared in 60 games for the Longhorns.

Hepa looks the part of a dominant power forward in college basketball. He stands 6’10 with a physically imposing 220 pound frame. He is exceptionally athletic for a man of his size but for whatever reason; things just didn’t seem to fit for him at Texas.

Having a good head on his shoulders certainly wasn’t the problem for Hepa at Texas who was named an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection as a sophomore along with being a recipient of the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award which is the highest academic honour in the Big 12.

With Shaka Smart being fired by Texas and moving on to Marquette, Hepa’s future wasn’t in the plans for new Longhorns head coach Chris Beard and so a change was definitely in order for the 21 year-old from Utqiagvik, Alaska.

Hopefully the change of scenery will do a world of good for Hepa who will have two years of eligibility remaining under Hawaii head coach Eran Ganot.

Opportunity and regular playing time along with a move to the Big West Conference could be the cure for Hepa’s lack of productivity in the Big-12.

Hawaii hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2016 but with Hepa in the mix, 2021-22 could be a season of a revival for Hepa and the Rainbow Warriors.