18-year-old Kobe King-Hawea is the future WNBA star you need to know
Kobe King-Hawea was literally born into basketball.
Named after the legend Kobe Bryant himself by her hoops-obsessed father, it seemed like King-Hawea was destined for greatness on the court.
At 18-years-old, King-Hawea has already made history. One out of the three Australian women who made the WNBA rosters this year, she has been granted a scholarship to play at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia.
She tells Bleacher Report,
“Playing was all I knew from a very young age. It was a way to be with my family and also to get away from everything. I put basketball above everything, above even friendships. Outside of family, basketball is the first thing in my life.”
The NBA’s global academy outreach is unearthing prospects on an international level. After playing and practicing in Canberra since the age of 12, King-Hawea was discovered in 2017, by Kristen Veal, Center of Excellence coach.
“In 2001, the NBA and FIBA launched Basketball Without Borders, staging more than 50 camps on six continents. Of the more than 3,000 player participants, more than 50 have made it to the NBA, including budding stars like Joel Embiid, Jamal Murray and Lauri Markkanen.”
The Basketball Without Borders program started as a “community outreach program” in order to bring the game to players from all over the world. 133 countries have been involved in the program so far, with over 3,000 participants involved.
Since the program was started, the NBA has seen over 250 players join the association across 30 different teams.
The NBA is also looking into creating a system which will allow players to be drafted as early as high school, though this has been out of the question for the past 12 years.
Players like King-Hawea remind us that though the NBA has progressed in its approach to drafting players and spreading the game, the WNBA’s roster is still catching up on the new age development of international basketball.
“I think I made a stamp over here. My name’s well known over here.”
Hopefully, we will see King-Hawea play in both college and the WNBA. But for now, all we can do it sit back and watch as she alters history, one hoop at a time.