By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The NCAA transfer portal takes, and the NCAA transfer portal gives.
The University of Hawaii men’s basketball team scored a big “get” this past Sunday when former Texas Longhorns player Kamaka Hepa announced his intention to transfer to Manoa. The 6’10, 220-lb. forward will join the program as a graduate transfer and will have two seasons of eligibility beginning with the 2021-22 season.
Hepa, who was born in Utqiagvik, Alaska, was a Rivals Top 50 recruit as a senior in high school. He was also given a four-star rating by 247Sports and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year after his senior campaign at Jefferson H.S. in Portland, Oregon. He previously was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Alaska. Recruited by then-head coach Shaka Smart, Hepa signed with the Longhorns in 2018, choosing the program over schools such as Gonzaga, Arizona, USC, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington.
In his three seasons in Austin, Hepa played in 58 games (starting 12) and averaged 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds a contest. In his lone start of the 2020-21 season, he tied his career high of 15 points (5-8 from three-point range) in an 82-67 win over Kansas State. Hepa also scored 15 points in a January 2020 victory over Oklahoma State.
Hepa entered the transfer portal at the end of this past season after Smart left the program to accept the head coaching job at Marquette.
Hepa, whose father (Roland) was born and raised in Kauai, should make an immediate impact with the Rainbow Warriors. His shooting ability, length and overall skill set seem to make him an ideal “stretch four” in the UH offense – a position once held by the likes of Stefan Jankovic, Jack Purchase and Casdon Jardine. He should pair with the returning Samuta Avea to form an athletic tandem at the forward spots.
Here’s a look at Kamaka Hepa’s freshman and sophomore highlights:
Here’s Hepa’s big game this past season against Kansas State:
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