Akana family still making a difference on Moloka’i
The Akana family name is an iconic one when it comes to basketball on the island of Moloka’i, so it made sense for them to get involved while the University of Hawai’i basketball team was on the Friendly Isle over the weekend.
Former Moloka’i High and UH standout Jarinn Akana made a return to his home island to lead a basketball clinic for youth players on Friday at “The Barn” (Moloka’i High’s gymnasium).
“I haven’t been back to Molokai in eight years,” Jarinn said. “When Brandyn (Akana) called me and told me the University of Hawaii was going to come and play, I said I have to come. Once I decided that … I looked at ways I could revisit my roots and give back a little.”
Trenson Akana – one of Jarinn’s younger brothers who also excelled at Moloka’i High and later in college (BYU-Hawaii) – also helped with the clinic, as did their father, Nick Akana. Former Chaminade coach Merv Lopes also assisted at the clinic.
Moloka’i High School boys varsity coach Lester Delos Reyes signed up his entire team for the clinic. “It’s a real big thing for the community of Molokai,” he said.
Trophies and old newspaper clippings proclaiming the success of the Akana family can still be found in the display cases inside “The Barn.” Although the current Moloka’i High players were not yet born when Jarinn Akana was named the State Player of the Year in 1988, they are aware of his accomplishments.
“They always look at that placard and they all have that dream to be like one of the Akanas,” Delos Reyes said.
Akana currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Karla, and their four children. He spent 10 years as an assistant coach in the NBA, but now works as an agent for professional players. Among the “names” he has worked with are Dwight Howard, John Wall and Ricky Rubio.
He said he still keeps up with the UH basketball team, mostly through assistant coach Brandyn Akana, who is another of the younger brothers. Because the clinic was not affiliated with the University of Hawai’i, Brandyn could not assist.
“UH is my alma mater so of course I always want them to win and do well,” he said. “But even more so now with my brother Brandyn helping them out.”