Viko Noma’aea could have sauntered onto the basketball court this summer without a to-do list.
After all, the Sierra Vista guard was one of the area’s leading scorers last season, averaging 26.7 points on his way to second-team all-state honors.
But entering his senior year, the 5-foot-11-inch Noma’aea knows a possible future at the collegiate Division I level probably would have to come as a true point guard.
That’s precisely the skill set he hopes to display this week at the high-stakes Las Vegas Fab 48, where coaches such as Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl and California’s Mike Montgomery lined the sidelines of Bishop Gorman on Thursday.
“I still have a long way to go,” Noma’aea said. “My dad once told me, ‘There is always someone out there working harder than you are.’ I keep that in my head.”
His father, Vico Noma’aea, has kept a close eye on Viko’s development. He worked the sideline Thursday as coach of PolyNation 17s, the highest level of a travel program to which his son has belonged since age 8.
PolyNation is the only team from Nevada among the 48 in the loaded Invitational Division. Noma’aea had only five points in a 79-50 loss to New Orleans D-1 Ambassadors, but scoring isn’t his focus this week.
“We’ve had college coaches concerned about his size,” Vico Noma’aea said. “I guess if he has anything to prove in this tournament, it’s that he can run the point guard position at his size at the highest level.”
Viko Noma’aea said Brigham Young, Fresno State and Utah have shown interest in him, but he is still awaiting a Division I scholarship offer.
Sierra Vista coach Kent Johnson said Noma’aea was forced to carry more of the scoring burden last season for a team that lost nine seniors from the previous year.
But his court vision and distribution skills remain intact, Johnson said, and the Mountain Lions are counting on Noma’aea’s many talents to lead a postseason run next year.
“The thing that makes him dangerous is he’s got point guard skills,” Johnson said. “When he hones those, you can’t play off him because he can still hurt you.
“I think his biggest strength on the floor is intelligence and versatility. When we move into the AAU season, he’s more of a team leader and distributor.”
It’s a role Noma’aea is ready to embrace. Among Southern Nevada Class 4A players last season, his scoring average ranked second to Cimarron-Memorial guard and Fresno State signee Kevin Olekaibe, but Sierra Vista finished 15-12 and missed the playoffs.
“Being that I’m 5-11, there are not that many 5-11 point guards who are scorers,” said Noma’aea, who also averaged 6.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists as a junior. “They just like to get their teams involved, and I’m more of an all-around guard, handling the ball and passing.”
Noma’aea credited his father, a former Cal State Dominguez Hills guard and player-coach for the American Samoa National Team, with keeping him humble and focused.
Asked how it felt to earn all-state honors, Noma’aea said it wouldn’t compare to playing for larger stakes.
“All-state, that doesn’t really mean anything,” he said. “When we go to state, that’s what really matters.”