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Prep hoops: West Ranch's Kaluna commits to NAU

Power forward is one of valley's top talents

Posted: November 19, 2012 10:27 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2012 10:27 p.m.

West Ranch basketball player Ako Kaluna

 

West Ranch senior basketball player Ako Kaluna has committed to play for Northern Arizona University, becoming the first NCAA Division I basketball player from the Stevenson Ranch school.

The All-Santa Clarita Valley and All-Foothill League power forward/center had other offers, including one to the University of Hawaii, but the Hawaiian athlete felt NAU was a better fit.

“I can still represent my culture somewhere else. I could be that Hawaiian guy who went to Northern Arizona and represented and worked his hardest,” Kaluna said.

Kaluna is arguably the leading candidate for the SCV’s player of the year in 2012-13.

The three-year varsity star has a complete game and is an explosive player at 6 feet, 7 inches tall and 270 pounds.
He averaged 16.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game last year for the co-Foothill League champion Wildcats.

He said he chose NAU because of the comfort he felt there.

Kaluna went on his official visit last week and signed his letter of intent on Friday while on the visit.

“When (NAU head coach) Jack Murphy was saying how much he wanted me to play and be able to play right away, then their point guard came up and introduced himself and told to me how much they needed me, to have someone from the team tell me that made me comfortable,” Kaluna said.

West Ranch begins its season Nov. 27 with a home game against Crespi.

Kaluna is one of the reasons why the Wildcats go into the season as a Foothill League title favorite.

“He’s the biggest, baddest kid out there,” said West Ranch head coach Shant Bicakci. “You see our kids walk in (to an opposing gym) and the kids think, ‘West Ranch, where’s that?’ Then you see him, this 6-7, built dude. It changes it. He’s been the anchor of this program. No one has been as dominant as Ako.”

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