Justine Baltazar will not join the already-stacked 2021 PBA Rookie Draft.
The 6-foot-9 big man, who turns 24 on February 19, told Tiebreaker Times of his decision to skip this year’s draft set on March 14.
“Hindi muna ako papa-draft,” he said.
“Focus muna ako dito sa Gilas habang wala pang UAAP.”
Many eyes were on Baltazar over the past few months to see whether he would declare for the pros.
Seen as a game-changer, Baltazar would have dislodged Joshua Munzon and Jamie Malonzo in the draft hierarchy had he declared for the draft.
Baltazar, a member of the all-UAAP Season 82 team, averaged 15.14 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.07 blocks per game during his fourth year in La Salle.
The native of Pampanga also posted norms of 7.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists during his Gilas debut in Manama, Bahrain last November.
It remains unknown whether the UAAP Season 84 tournament will take place this year. If it doesn’t push through in the second half of 2021, and Baltazar plays for La Salle next year, the earliest he can enter the draft is on 2023.
Sources have also told Tiebreaker Times that Baltazar’s handler Gov. Delta Pineda had been against Baltazar joining this year’s draft.