‘Just a Kid from Osaka,’ Kota Akama, is headed to Ranger College

Ranger, TX – August 8, 2019

If we could cash in life experience for dollars right now, Kota Akama would be a wealthy young man. Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Mr. Akama has quite a story and vision, foregoing all of his high school career in the comforts of his own country, to pursue basketball in the US. The unassuming 5’8 point guard from Honshu was termed ‘the kid from Osaka’ or as one of his t-shirts may say ‘Just a Kid from Osaka.’

Kota started his journey after a couple of trips to the US, visiting Atlanta amongst other cities with the travel squad, Gymrats. Long drawn alliances between the moving forces and former teammates T Okada and Crossover CEO J. Dodd and the proven success of Kanna Suzuki convinced Akama to take his first chance in Atlanta at Brandon Hall School, a boarding school competing in GISA. After a year and uncertainty due to coaching changes and competition levels, Kota along with teammate, Elijah Ewing, jumped ship to the prominent Huntington Prep.

Heading up the newly formed and 2nd team, Akama spent two years in the shadows of big-time recruits and soon to be NBA players, such as Keldon Johnson of the San Antonio Spurs. Life in Huntington was much different than Atlanta, to say the least, but Akama was able to focus on his primary goal, getting better and playing the game he loves. After his Junior year, Akama decided he’d hit his ceiling in Huntington and decided to return to his second home in Atlanta, this time with Furtah Prep. Furtah was able to win its 2nd consecutive state title with Akama providing valuable minutes split between starting and coming off the bench.

After Summer camps and several tryouts, Akama has found the grace of Ranger College and Coach Billy Gillespie, securing a position on the squad for the upcoming 2019-20 season. Ranger College finished the season ranked #5 in the country and has been ranked as high as #2. Ironically, this year will also feature another Japanese national on the squad, the well-known Winter Cup star Keisei Tominaga. When asked what he thought about Tominaga’s presence along with the team having a Japanese trainer, Akama replied “It doesn’t matter who is on the team. My goals are the same to be the best I can be. It will be cool to meet Tominaga though and share the experience.”

“Kota is one of the most likable people I’ve ever met in my life and I know a lot of people,” laughed CEO J. Dodd. “I think he is just coming from a culture that places high value on work ethic and devotion to goals. Kota speaks English well and I’m sure he will have a positive effect on the team’s culture and be an asset overall. I love the fact that he never gives up and he will surprise you with his quickness and vision.”

One thing is for sure, Just a Kid from Osaka has got his work cut out for him in a game he’s not supposed to exceed in according to the stats. When asked if he still believes he can achieve his goals, Akama rebuts “Whether or not I reach my dream in basketball, I will do my best and I can be happy with that. The journey is always most important.”

Akama and Kaida Contribute as Huntington Prep Blue goes to 2-0

The inaugural season for Huntington Prep Blue has been surrounded with a fair amount of anticipation for the organization to court a 2nd competitive team.  Opening on Friday night versus Alice Lloyd College, HPB didn’t hold any punches, cruising to an 83-62 win in front of a home crowd at St. Joseph’s High School.  The team exhibited an even scoring attack, with Alley leading all scorers with 22, Dekoninck dropping 19 and big man Okpomo with 10.  The two Japanese sophmores from Osaka, Japan, Kota Akama and Rintaro Kaida, also contributed solid performances in their first game, posting 9 and 8 points respectively.  Akama started at the point guard position and had a nice floor game, getting other teammates involved.  Rintaro Kaida was not far behind, showing flashes of his sharp shooting and scoring ability.

The second game  at Wesley Christian Red in Allen, KY, was much closer, going down to the last 2 minutes of a neck and neck game.  Huntington was eventually able to pull out an 8 point victory, 64 – 56.  Coach Aholode stressed the importance for all of his players to continue to develop individually and as a team.  “I told Rintaro that he is on of a few guys who have the ‘green light’.  We know he can shoot, so we just want him to be ready to take the shot with confidence and things will start to pick up for him.”  Kaida scored 5 points in the second game and Akama put 3 on the board in limited time.  Alley led all scorers for the second consecutive game at 22 points and Warden followed him with 13 points.

kaida2 akama3 akama2 kaida3

All Photos by Alicia Anderson

Ewing Makes Leap to Huntington Prep

Huntington, WV.

Elijah Ewing, cousin of NBA Legend, Patrick Ewing and Overseas Pro Patrick Ewing Jr, has inked a deal to attend Huntington Prep Academy for the 2016-17 and 17-18 seasons.   A sharp shooter from Atlanta, GA, Ewing made a name for himself early, starting varsity as a freshman and achieving All-State honors as a sophomore.  With the expansion of the Huntington Prep program, Ewing finds himself matched up with some of the top talent in the country.  “We definitely believe that Elijah can play on this level and we are excited to help him develop his game.  He is dedicated and has shown a good work ethic,” said Head Coach Arkell Bruce.  Ewing is a 6’3 combo guard who has efficient middle range and three point shooting abilities.

Far East Connect Joins Huntington Prep

Huntington, WV

Huntington Prep Academy has announced the acquisition of two Japanese players from Osaka, Japan to join their expanded program for the 2016-17 season.  Rintaro Kaida and Kota Akama, both rising 10th graders, will have the opportunity to play with the Irish and have both expressed excitement for the future.  Rintaro Kaida, known throughout the youth circuit in Japan, was an All Japan U14 member and highly recruited guard.  At 6’1, Kaida has transitioned to the PG position, although he played the positions 1-4 in Japan.  “If Rintaro can become effective as a point guard, he has tons of upside, considering his athleticism, shooting ability and overall instincts,” noted International Director Jerone Dodd Jr.  Kota Akama made his debut in the states by joining the Brandon Hall Panthers for the 2015-16 season, where he started and helped his team reach the GISA State Tournament for the first time.  “Kota is a very quick, shifty and tough guard.  He’s not afraid to push the ball and go inside.  He has a great heart and we are expecting good things from him as well,” Dodd added.

Both players visited the US prior to committing to go to school there and had the chance to train with BBall 101’s Dorian Lee, a world renown trainer in the Atlanta area.  “It’s always good to work with Japanese talents because they usually tend to be very receptive to the training and instruction that goes along with it.  Kota has all the tools needed in terms of ball handling to excel as a smaller point guard, so we focused mainly on the little things like creating enough space for shots and being able to break down the defender in front of him.  I told Rintaro that he has the potential with the right training to be a top level guard.  He is savvy and very aggressive, so I think he just needs to hone these attributes when learning the intangibles of playing the point guard position.”

Huntington Prep Academy has made an effort to recruit more international talent to its already bolstering program and have expanded their coaching staff by bringing in former alum Herve Aholode to lead the second team.  Coach Aholode offered, “So far, I have been very impressed with both of our Japanese players.  They work extremely hard and are nice guys in general.  They will be a good example to the rest of the team of what a student athlete should be like.  I am looking forward to seeing them in more game type situations soon.”