Attila comes back home

By Paul Harder, The Observer November 13, 2013 11:09 am

Kevin Attila has started four games for the Mountaineers this season. Attila started his basketball career playing for  La Grande High School.
Kevin Attila has started four games for the Mountaineers this season. Attila started his basketball career playing for La Grande High School.
 

Growing up in La Grande, Kevin Attila dreamed of playing college basketball. But, most dreams don’t match the reality of life. However, Attila, a senior at Eastern Oregon University, said that’s not the case.

“I couldn’t have written a better script,” Attila said. “I’ve been able to see a lot of places, and do a lot of things. I like where this journey has taken me.”

The journey all started with the Tigers basketball team. Attila came on quickly, being named first-team in the Greater Oregon League as a sophomore. His junior year, he was named first-team all-state. Finally, as a senior, Attila was tabbed the Class 4A Player of the Year.“I loved playing in front of the community here,” Attila said. “They supported the team so well.”

Attila’s next stop after high school took him to the community college level. While that might not seem glamorous, the school he chose was no slouch.

“I knew going to the College of Southern Idaho would be a great challenge,” Attila said. “They play at a very high level and it helped me learn how to play the game at a different level.”

Attila had help with that. On the scout team his freshman year he was matched up against Pierre Jackson. 

Jackson would later play, and start, for Baylor after winning the 2011 national championship with the Golden Eagles. 

“It was a challenge,” Attila said. “Pierre is a gifted player, and he made me better defensively. You don’t realize how quick you need to be to stop players like him.”

Attila led the team in three-point shooting percentage in his stint with CSI.

Attila averaged 4.2 points in 17.3 minutes as a sophomore for the Golden Eagles.

Next, it was off to Hawaii.

Attila played for Hawaii Pacific University.

He appeared in all 26 games for the Sea Warriors, starting 14 games.

He was third in minutes played per game and third in three-point field goals made.

“I had a great time over there,” Attila said. “It was like playing in paradise.”

But, Attila had a decision to make — stay in paradise or come back and play in front of the community that saw him first.

“My heart has been calling me back here,” Attila said. “It wasn’t a difficult choice. The opportunity was there for me to be able to come back and play, and I took it.”

It was a time of transition for the Mountaineers’ program. 

Head coach Isaac Williams left for Boise State University. The team graduated seniors from a team that climbed to the top of the NAIA polls.

“That was part of the appeal,” Attila said. “I could be part of something new, but try to help the program continue where its been.

“I really like our coach (Jared Barrett). And, I think we have a lot of great athletes on the team. It’s just taking us a little time to get everything working together.”

EOU is off to a 6-0 start this season, but the schedule hasn’t been daunting.

“We’re excited to see what we can do in conference play,” Attila said. “We know that it’s going to be tough, but we want to see how far we’ve come.”

Attila will be at the forefront of the Mountaineers’ success.

The 5-foot-11 guard has started the last four games, averaging 27 minutes per contest.

“Obviously you want to start,” Attila said. “My goal is to be ready when the coach puts me in the game. I’ll do what I can to help the team reach its goals.”

Attila has opened the season shooting 51 percent from the floor on 18-of-35 shooting. He leads in the team in three-point shooting percentage, making 14-of-28 attempts.

But, Attila’s role has changed. Barrett brought him in to play the off-guard, but Attila has seen more time running the point.

“I’ve had lots of experience running both positions,” Attila said. “I’m comfortable shooting the ball, but I also like setting up my teammates to score.”

He’s averaging 10.8 points per game, while dishing out 6.1 assists.

While Attila is happy to be playing well, he said the experience of finishing a few blocks from where his basketball career started is something he’ll always cherish.

“It feels great to be able to come back home,” Attila said. “The support from the community has been great. People are coming up to me at games or around town to tell me hello and wish me well. That’s been the greatest part of coming back.”