Video Analysis and Scouting Report of Kamaka Hepa (Hawaii) By: Alex Brown for APB

Player Profile

Age – DOB: 22 Years – January 27, 2000.

Measurements: 6’9, 220

Modern Position: 

Offense – Low Tier ESW (Elite Shooting Wing) – See Attribute Comparison in Conclusion

Defense – Low Tier Traditional Center

Current Team: University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Nationality: United States – Filipino/Hawaiian/Inupiat/Caucasian

Brief Background: Kamaka Hepa was a former 4 star recruit (#55) from Alaska (also played for Jefferson HS later on) who began his collegiate career at Texas, where he would play 3 years in a low rotation role behind & alongside future NBA/G-League players like Jericho Sims, Kai Jones, Jaxson Hayes, and Greg Brown. Hepa opted to transfer to the University of Hawaii following the departure of Shaka Smart and the first round exit in the 2020-2021 NCAA tournament, after initially planning to redshirt for his junior season during the COVID year.

In high school, he won Gatorade State Player of the Year in Alaska twice, and once in Oregon after averaging 16.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 6.2 blocks per game as a senior.

Hepa is an energy guy whilst on the bench, constantly hyping up teammates and trying to impact the game without always being in it. His teammates have credited him as a vocal presence with excellent communication on/off the court. He would like to be the first NBA player of Inupiat descent.

Injury Report: Lesser injuries here and there reported (concussion protocol, mild ankle sprain).

Career Projection: G-League Deal – Low to Mid Tier INTL

NBA Draft Projection: Undrafted

Statistical Profile:

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Generally, Hepa has a more positive impact when he shoots the 3 with volume.

Offense

Strengths & Improvement Areas

Analysis on the notable strengths and improvement areas a player possesses.

Roles: Shooter, Stretch Big, Cutter, Facilitator.

Strengths

  • 3pt Shooting: Hepa’s greatest offensive asset is his shooting, as he is a capable floor stretcher at 6’9. He has currently (as of March 4th) made 40 of his 97 3pt attempts on the year, and is 75/203 (36.9%) on his career. He is rather streaky, however.
    • Mechanics: Generally compact release with a smooth follow through. Stable base for the most part with some volatility in the energy transfer showing up when the shot becomes anything more complicated than an open C&S. Makes himself a threat with his footwork before the catch, and can rise up instantly after receiving the ball (though, the high speed at which he transfers to his shooting motion can cause volatility in his energy transfer and mechanics).
    • Quick Trigger: Along with having a fast load & release, Hepa is a willing shooter with the confidence the hunt looks. As his primary value driver on the offensive end, his confidence and assertiveness is an asset.

All 3pt Shots:

  •  Cutting: Hawaii’s offense relies on a lot of backdoor sets and cutting in general. Hepa fits well here, with quick acceleration, deliberate decision making at picking his moments, and serviceable finishing for the college level. Uses shooting gravity well.
  •  PlaymakingFinding Cutters & Finishing Power Plays: While he has some struggles as a playmaker that will be looked into below, Hepa had some very solid reads to cutters in both freelance and set actions. As a playmaker, some of the most effective passes he threw were the result of knowing where the set was going and acting upon it with assertiveness. He understood the timing of actions well enough to be a hub during them, despite his relatively poor reactionary playmaking. This also applied to some freelance cuts as well. He looked pro level on operating within power plays on broken defenses, knowing in advance where he needed to get the ball on the interior and perimeter.

Improvement Areas

  • Playmaking & Feel
    • Premeditated Decision Making Hindrances: One area that kept popping up across Hepa’s game was the propensity to primarily act on premeditated decisions. Outside of sets and broken plays, he can be far wilder without the structure; throwing some poor feel, ill advised passes in a myriad of scenarios. Putting him in a box as much as possible as a playmaker is important to deriving value from him passing the ball. This also impacts him as a scorer, mostly manifesting as deciding to shoot the ball off the catch before reading the defense (and occasionally missing some potential power plays derived from making an extra pass).
    • Handle: Nothing special as a handler, but can put the ball on the floor at a serviceable level in transition and has flashed that as a DHO keeper. Overall though, he doesn’t really get to his spots off the dribble unless it is in the post. Projects as more of a gaps guy rather than someone you would want handling the ball at this stage in his development.

Assists + Turnovers:

  • Interior Offense
    • Finishing: Hepa’s finishing package is pretty basic overall with predictable moves and a below the rim style. He is best against size mismatches, but can still miss the occasional bunnies. He also lacks vertical pop for the professional level, as he is a below average vertical athlete for his size. Against length, he struggles to finish strongly at the rim, especially through contact. Naturally, he has not been used much on the interior, and plays more like a roaming perimeter wing. This lets him finish as a cutter, where he is more effective as finding his spots.
    • Slashing: Hepa doesn’t offer much as a slasher outside of straight line drives derived from closeout attacks and the rare DHO keeper. Lacks the handle, mobile finishing, and reactionary playmaking to be used as a slasher often. How he develops when it comes to picking his moments to attack will be key.
    • Rim Frequency: Only has 39 true rim attempts on the year (per Barto), less than the amount of 3’s he’s made. When he does get there, he has shot 66.7%. Hepa should be leveraging his shooting gravity more effectively to attack closeouts and create breakdowns or power plays. Developing in the aforementioned slashing areas would be beneficial to augmenting this.
    • Post Game: Although he does have a comfortable hook shot with his left hand, Hepa’s post game is largely predictable and lacks the counters needed to be used outside of mismatch hunting. He doesn’t have a lot of shake to his game, and struggles to carve out quality looks for himself when he can’t win with strength/size. He plays smaller than his listed size, as well. Struggles with touch as well. Overall, lacks the feel and instincts for the post at the next level.

Interior Scoring:

  • In-between Game: Hepa is only shooting 32.4% on non-rim 2pt shots with 12/37 for the year. He doesn’t really score off the short roll due to his lacking floater execution, but he does have potential from mid range in one key area. When he can really leverage his gravity as a shooter to get an open, one-dribble mid range pull-up, he has flashed the potential to look the part. The mechanics need some consistency, but it is reasonable to believe that this is a dimension he could add to his game in time, given enough reps.
  • Rebounding: Although primarily a perimeter shooter, Hepa is not going to be a game changer on the glass due to the lacking vertical pop and instincts. Although he is 6’9 220, banging on the glass is not an area where he should be expected to provide value at the next level.

Defense

Strengths & Improvement Area

Analysis on the notable strengths and improvement areas a player possesses.

Roles: Bruiser

Strengths

  • Strong Base: When Hepa has a chance to defend offensive players with his chest, he can win defensive matchups. He is not a player you can overpower with ease, making him a (relatively) capable defender when tasked with defending physical slashers that rely on strength to create advantages.
  • Post Defense: While he likely wont be able to do much against taller/heavier players, against players relatively around his size he is quite effective in post defense. Keeps himself vertical, uses his chest, and has active hands.
  • Hustle: Willing to get on the floor and dive for loose balls. While I would like to see more of this on the glass, it is encouraging to see him get on the floor often.

Improvement Areas

  • POA Defense: Hepa is pretty much limited to guarding non-shooters that he can play back on, as he has the mobility of a slower, traditional center despite being more of a stretch 4 (or in this case, ESW) offensively.
    • Footwork: Very poor closeout technique… Hepa’s closeouts are a major weakness, as putting him in any perimeter recovery/scramble situations will almost always result in a defensive breakdown/blow-by. He has slow, choppy footwork, a below average feel for timing, and struggles with knowing how to position himself. His lateral mobility is rather lacking as well for his size. The post-breakdown recovery defense is relatively poor as well, making Hepa a difficult big to have guarding the perimeter.

Defensive Mix (POA):

  • Rim Protection: Not much of a shot blocker at all, only blocking 42 shots in just over 1300 minutes played. While he can punish the creation mistakes of some guards/wing that try to take him in iso, against higher feel competition he will be more limited as a shot blocker. There isn’t much rotating rim protection either due to the athletic limitations.
  • Team Defense: Decent team defender for MM college basketball. Still loses sight of responsibilities, can get caught ball watching, and doesn’t give you much in the event generation department. He has some schematic awareness, but doesn’t really move the needle off the ball.
    • Event Generation: Pretty basic event generation across the board for a big. Can use his length in passing lanes and on stunts, and occasionally make plays on the ball when the handler makes a mistake. Nothing that really moves the needle above any other bigs at this level, and is below average in this category overall.

Event Generation – Deflections, Steals, Blocks:

  • Rebounding: Only averaging ~5 rebounds per game is a pretty rough look for a guy who projects to have the lacking defensive versatility of an undersized traditional center. The lacking feel, athleticism, and vertical pop just aren’t helpful here.

He isn’t horrible or a total liability defensively, as he tries and wins some possessions, but he just isn’t good enough defensively to fit in a high level program. To really make is as a pro on the defensive end as a 6’9 stretch big, you have to at least be able to do 1 of 3 things relatively serviceably for the league you play in: guarding in space, rebounding, & protecting the rim. If you cannot do any of those things at a high enough level to stick, your pro ceiling is likely lower than you imagine.

Overall Outlook

While Hepa fits what the NBA is looking for in the ESW role mold somewhat decently on the offensive end, his defensive limitations and lack of fit make him a tough player to look at as a potential NBA piece. He has the negative aspects present in traditional centers, such as lacking defensive versatility, lacking agility, and limited handling. That is a tough ask for a team to play Hepa at the ESW role when he has the aforementioned limitations. An unrealistic defensive transformation would have to take place for him to be considered serviceable. His best fit would be in a lower tier league overseas, where he would be passable at the 5 defensively.

ESW (Elite Shooting Wing) Offensive Fit – Comparison vs. Archetype.

Attributes

-High volume shooter:

Not quite shooting with enough volume consistently to match here. Needs to add volume at or near his efficiency level.

-Excellent at creating offensive spacing.

Stretches the floor effectively, and brings a fair amount of gravity with him. Great piece for spacing.

-Impacts the offensive positively with limited touches. (Active off ball movement)

Generally has been a positive player without the ball in his hands. Finishes power plays well.

-Less effective off the dribble than a HUG.

Not effective off the dribble.

-High amount of 3pt attempts with low turnovers.

Turnover reduction would be ideal to fit this mold.

Skill Set:

(+) 3pt shooting ✓

(+) Constant off-ball threat that always draws a lot of defensive attention. (~)

(+) Purposeful movement without the ball. (~)

(-) Limited ball-handling ability to breakdown individual defenders. ✓

(-) Heavily reliant on others creating offense for them. ✓