A roster that includes some of Hawaii’s top basketball players, including former professional Derrick Low, also has a bit of Saintly thumbprints.
Brothers Kameron and Kordel Ng are on the roster of the Kingdom of Hawaii team and are set to fly to New Zealand for a Pacific Rim-wide tournament on Thursday. Kameron Ng, a senior, and Kordel, a junior, are the only Hawaii prep players on the roster.
“We’re going to play against other national teams, Poly national teams. Derrick Low, Kyle Pape, they still play like they’re still in college. Kyle is a sniper,” Kameron Ng said. “Nick Velasquez. I think he’s going to play somewhere, he signed to play pro after he comes back from New Zealand. We have Jessiya Villa’s younger brother. (Telryn Villa). Kawika Lyons, graduated from Kamehameha. This big guy, Michael Wolfe, he was born here. We have a pretty good team, I think.”
Ng was surprised to get a call.
“It was after one of our Maryknoll games, the coach (Kawika Villa) called. He’s been preparing us well. It’s been fun,” Ng said.
Low led ‘Iolani to three state championships before playing at Washington State, and then at the pro level for a decade. One year younger than Low, Pape also sparked the Raiders to a state title (four total), then played at Colorado School of Mines. Velasquez was one of the best sharpshooters in Punahou history, helping the 2012 Buffanblu win a state crown. He then played at Western Washington.
All are dedicated to the game. Velasquez got up daily at 5 a.m. to get shooting reps at 24-Hour Fitness, then went to school. That’s where young gunners like the Ng brothers bring the same work ethic. While Kameron sees graduation in just a few months, younger brother Kordel will be searching for a new home. With St. Francis closing its doors, he has been proactive. He took an entrance test for Kamehameha, where a good friend, Christmas Togiai, is one of the state’s top guards. Punahou is a possibility. So is Damien, which will make the move higher to Division I next season and returns, arguably, the best team in the state.
“There’s a lot of schools we’re still looking at and thinking about, but it’s really up to my parents, what they want me to do,” Kordel Ng said.
Saint Louis is another option. Before he was released as head coach, Sol Batoon had been in contact with Kekoa Ng, Kordel and Kameron’s father. Batoon wanted Kordel Ng to finish his prep career with the Crusaders.
Another possibility is Kahuku. So is a public high school in Virginia, Martinsburg High, where Jessiya Villa played before transferring to Kahuku as a senior to help the Red Raiders capture the ’17 state championship.
“I feel like it’s unnecessary, but since the school’s shutting down, it became necessary,” Kordel Ng said of the status of St. Francis. “I don’t really care where I end up. It’s up to my parents.”
Kordel Ng has known Togiai since second grade.
“He’s one of my best friends. I first met him at Kamehameha summer school and we started playing basketball after that,” he said. “Second or third grade. The last time we played pickup was a week ago or two weeks ago. The guy’s just an athlete. Talented at everything. Hidden fact, the guy doesn’t even lift (weights). That’s all just being Polynesian.”
Older brother Kameron Ng sees the big picture.
“If he wants to go to a good college, I think Punahou is the best option. If he wants to have fun, have the best chance to win a state championship, he’ll have a better chance at Kamehameha or Damien,” Kameron Ng said.
Kameron Ng, now 5-foot-10, is still growing — he shot up several inches since freshman year — so settling at a four-year school might not happen right away.
“NAIA schools, D-II schools, prep schools, a few D-I schools. People say I can go to a D-I school and take a redshirt year, develop that way, but I found a prep school that is all in on me and wants to help me get to a Division I school. It’s near West Virginia,” he said of an opportunity at Scotland Prep (Penn.). “They’re willing to pay the full tuition for me. It was the summer before the season started, I visited West Virginia. They want me to come, but they want me to prep school for a year.”
Time has passed by quickly for the Ng family. One way or another, the brothers will likely be on different routes once Kameron graduates in June.
“Oh yeah, I’m going to miss him, definitely,” Kameron Ng said of Kordel. “But he’s going to be lost without me.”