Hirotaka Ohashi Signs with Florida National University

Miami, FL – June 21, 2019

The ink has dried for Mr. Hirotaka Ohashi, a native from Osaka, Japan. Ohashi has officially accepted a scholarship offer from Florida National University, which is coming off of a stellar 20-9 season in D1 of the NAIA last season.

Hiro, as he is so affectionately known, is a 5’6″ Point Guard who excelled in his homeland at the famed Rakunan High School in Kyoto, Japan before deciding to take his talents to West Florida. Ohashi played at Victory Rock Prep Academy in Sarasota, FL as the starting PG for the postgraduate team, leading them to a winning season and gaining notice along the way. Although Hiro is a small player as are many Japanese, his unique skill sets of ball-handling, passing and decision making have propelled him to be effective as the primary ball-handler and captain of the Victory Rock ship.

When asked what separates Hiro from others, Crossover Exposure CEO Jerone Dodd Jr. noted “Hiro is a special talent in a small package…while many will say he doesn’t pass the eye test at first glance, almost a 100% of the time, people end up becoming a fan and enjoy watching him play when its all said and done. With his speed, quickness and low center of gravity it is very difficult to stay in front of him in the open floor. Ohashi has all the intangibles of a good PG to be successful. He has vision, a great assist to TO ratio, he can shoot the outside shot and most importantly he is a leader and is always on the job. I think his work ethic will rub off on others and he will soon become a valuable asset to Florida National. Japan is watching and we all look forward to following him to see how he does.”

In only 6 years of existence, Florida National University’s Head Coach, James ‘JJ’ Thatcher, has led the program to National Tournaments from 2015-18, with their best season achieving a 25-7 record and Final Four Appearance.

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.

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All Photos by Alicia Anderson

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.”