Hepa's off-season has him on most of the time
He hasn't even started summer school at the University of Texas, and Kamaka Hepa may already need an excuse note.
He'll be covered for this one though.
Hepa's been invited to try out for the United States U18 basketball team at the end of May in Colorado Springs. It means he'll likely miss some class and practice time in Austin. But his coaches have his back.
"Those two things kind of collide but they let me know that they'll work around my schedule and how far I go in the tryouts so that was good to know," said Hepa by phone Tuesday.
After returning from a Portland, Oregon-area high school where he played the past couple of years, he's back home in Barrow- but not for long. He'll go back to Portland next week to continue his training before arriving in Colorado.
Finalists will likely be announced June 2. Those selected will stay at the United States Olympic Training Center through June 8 before departing for the tournament.
He'll be among the 32 hopefuls vying for a spot on the team which will compete at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men in St. Catharines, Canada, June 10 through 16. The competition will be stiff. The roster is stacked with blue chip talent. But Hepa's also confident why he's there.
"My goal right now is to make the team. There's other top prospects in the country, but regardless, I'm still going to go there wanting to make the team."
Team officials told him his style of play is why they're bringing him to Colorado Springs. They want Kamaka to be Kamaka.
"They don't want me to do anything that I don't naturally do," he said.
He was tipped a while back that he'd be on the tryout roster but it became official this week.
Making the team would also give Hepa an extra opportunity to play for some of the top college coaches in the nation. Kansas head coach and basketball Hall of Famer Bill Self will run the group. Anthony Grant of Dayton and Wake Forest's Danny Manning are the assistants. Matt Painter of Purdue is the team committee chair. Following Hepa's stint with U.S. team, however long it goes, it's off to Texas to play for Shaka Smart.
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