With the prestigious Hoophall Classic rolling through Phoenix, Arizona last month, Pro Insight was on hand to catch all of the top teams and prospects in attendance, one being Harvard-Westlake School (CA) forward Nikolas Khamenia. Khamenia plays on one of the top programs in California that includes Notre Dame signee Brady Dunlap, future Princeton forward Jacob Huggins, Harvard commit Robert Hinton, and 2024 guard Trent Perry. While still an underclassman, the 6’7” forward has a mature game and made an immediate impact once he stepped onto the floor. The all-around prospect possesses high basketball IQ, hustle on both ends, and strong leadership.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Khamenia highlighted his family’s basketball background, growing up as a San Antonio Spurs fan, schools he hopes to visit in the future, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2025 prospect Nikolas Khamenia, from Los Angeles, California:
Pro Insight: How have you adjusted your game to fit within a deep Harvard-Westlake team?
Nikolas Khamenia: I mean, I feel like I bring to this team just being a guy that just does whatever we need to win so like whether it's coach putting me in a position to make a pass for someone to score, rebounding always, and then just really trying to just be a great teammate, be a leader. As a sophomore, yeah, you don't really look at that, but like if my freshmen are down like just talk to them in practice, talk to people and at the same time all the people do the same thing to me. And then in practice just bringing energy, every game just trying to bring energy, talking on defense, just simple stuff. It's not always about scoring. Just making the right play, making the right read, stuff like that.
PI: Talk a bit about your background and family. How did you get to where you are today?
NK: So I was born in LA — Los Angeles, California. Both of my parents are from Belarus. My dad played overseas. My mom came here in high school. She went to college in Florida. Dad played at GW for college and they went back to Europe. Got married. They came here. I was born in LA. Ever since then, my dad works at a junior college, LA Valley College. Ever since I was young, just going there, learning the game from him. Both my parents have a basketball background. They both played. So basically my whole life has just been basketball, basketball, basketball and then on top of that I have three siblings, a little brother, an older sister, a little sister. I mean with them it is just the same thing. Being an older brother, it's just like [they’ll play] basketball at some point, so yeah.
PI: Would you be interested in playing for Belarus in the future?
NK: Right now I feel like I'm super young. I'm not really looking at that, but I mean if it ever happens, it happens. I wouldn't keep it out of the picture.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
NK: I mean, I'm always watching like a whole bunch of different players to model. I mean, growing up…I'm a Spurs fan, so I was a big Kawhi Leonard fan. I loved Tim Duncan in the post. I loved watching Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili. My favorite player right now is probably Kevin Durant, just his versatility and all that. I like watching Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, just the way they read the game and stuff like that. I wouldn't say there's just one player. I really just learn from and take film from a lot of different players and try to put that in my game.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
NK: Right now, it's probably just everything, really. I mean, you can't really focus on one thing. I try to get better at shooting more consistently, dribble the ball better, post moves, and then skill-wise, I try not to limit myself when I'm working out.
PI: What is your recruitment update? You took some visits recently, right?
NK: Well I mean, I have offers from Southern Utah, Nebraska, and Stanford. But yeah, I took a visit to UCLA, talked to them a lot. Talked to Gonzaga a lot, so yeah.
PI: Did you have a dream school growing up?
NK: Never really had one school. I always just loved watching Tom Izzo coach. I loved Michigan. I loved Duke. I loved UNC, like all the big names…UCLA, Gonzaga. I loved watching Kansas. All those major conferences where people really get physical and play hard.
PI: Which schools are you hoping to visit in the near future?
NK: I mean, definitely not just one school. I feel like I'd love to see Kansas, what that looks like. Let's see (thinking thoughtfully). I'd love to go back to UCLA and Gonzaga and see more. There isn't one school that I just have in mind that I’d just love to go see.
PI: What will ultimately be your deciding factors when making your choice?
NK: I mean, just how they treat me, what they see from me. The main thing for me is that I always want to get better. I always want to be somewhere where I feel like a coach will treat me like a son. He'll know when to get on me. He'll know when to give me a hug. Make me feel welcomed. Somewhere that needs me.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
NK: I mean, to be honest, I'm really just basketball, basketball, basketball. If I'm completely honest, I mean especially at Harvard-Westlake…it's like you go to practice, you do schoolwork, you go to bed, you go back to school, practice, schoolwork, so there's not much I'll do. I'll probably just…I don't know, play some games with my little brother, watch some TV with my dad, not too much.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
NK: Recently, I'll say Future for sure.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
NK: I just got this one most recently, but #TrustYourWork.
PI: What are your plans for the upcoming AAU season?
NK: Right now, I'm not really looking forward to AAU. For me, it's all about being here at Harvard-Westlake. I'm trying to win state, win CIF, and that's about it.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
NK: Ever since I was young, my dad would always say, “the way you play basketball is the way you live your life.” That's the biggest thing for me.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
NK: I mean, I’ve looked into business a lot lately. Yeah, business. Probably like a clothing brand. I talked about that with my mom.
PI: Would you say you’re interested in getting into more fashion?
NK: I mean, not too much, but yeah (smiles).
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
NK: Just someone that works hard. Good work ethic. Someone who wants to be a good student and a good person. That's about it.