Gone are the days when elite Filipino high school prospects would dream of “just” making it to a blue-blood university for their collegiate careers.
They are now shooting for the stars with the goal of making it to the G League and, hopefully, the NBA.
With the help of US-based firm East West Private, Kai Sotto of Ateneo High and Cholo Anonuevo of FEU-Diliman have been able to train in the US and play in the AAU circuit.
But who are the next prospects EWP should take a hard look at?
Tay Tung High School/UP Integrated School
First on this list is a little-known talent from Bacolod in Kobe Demisana.
But don’t forget that name.
Standing at 6-foot-8 and just 15 years young, Demisana has been playing beyond his years.
Take for example his dominant performance during the NBTC Regional Championships in Aklan, where he led Tay Tung to the National Finals.
And let’s not forget his eight-point, seven-rebound outing during the Jr. NBA Asia Pacific Boys Team’s 61-59 triumph over the U.S. South Boys Team in the Global Championship last August.
Scouts have praised the lefty Demisana’s passing, mid-range game, and footwork.
All the while, the incoming Grade 10 student-athlete, who has transferred to UPIS, is working on becoming a small forward — just like his idol Kevin Durant.
Speaking of UPIS, another Junior Fighting Maroon is on this list — none other than 6-foot-4 1/2 Aldous Torculas.
Torculas turned heads during the UAAP Season 82 High School Boys’ Basketball Tournament. There, he posted norms of 11.6 points, 15.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 2.3 steals per contest to make it to the All-UAAP team.
And he is just 16 years young!
Though his stats say that he plays like a big, he can definitely be classified as a three or four — a utility forward.
Torculas can connect from both inside and outside. He is also a triple-threat on the floor since he can drive, defend, and pass.
And yes, he is also working on being a swingman.
If CJ Perez was anointed as the Baby Beast, 6-foot-4 Lebron Lopez is the next in line to take that mantle, according to numerous scouts.
Best known for his athletic prowess, Lopez is viewed as the best pound-for-pound athlete in the high school ranks today.
And he can also put up numbers.
During his first year with Ateneo High, Lopez posted norms of 16.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game.
What Lopez needs to work on though is his outside shot.
Shooting 45.11-percent from the field, he was able to convert just 14 of his 59 attempts from distance.
But at just 16 years young, he has all the time in the world to work on it. With a little more maturity, he could reach his full potential.
If his uncle Johnny was not able to make it, maybe RJ can.
Abarrientos might be the smallest and the oldest in this list, but he definitely is no longer a “work in progress”.
Standing at 6-foot-flat with shoes and turning 21 this September, Abarrientos has made up for this by developing the most lethal jump shot in the amateur scene.
His debut game with the Tamaraws in the D-League saw him tally 14 points built on four triples, to go along with five assists and three rebounds.
And who could ever forget the “Abarrientos Game”? There, he dropped 18 points in the race-to-21 game to lift a three-man Gilas Youth 3X3 team to a 21-19 win over Iran.
Besides his shooting prowess, Abarrientos also has crazy court vision and a deadly floater to make up for his height.
Of course, no top prospects list would ever be complete without Carl Tamayo.
Though standing at 6-foot-7, Tamayo is a threat from all corners of the floor, as he packs both an inside and outside game.
During his final year with NSNU, he averaged 12.56 points on 45-percent shooting from the field, 26-percent from downtown to go along with 10.38 boards per game.
Though he played mostly four and five in high school, he has shown that he can also play the three-position well during the 23 for 2023 Gilas Cadets’ campaign in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup.
There is one thing though that will hinder Tamayo if ever he heads abroad — age.
Already 19 years old, the incoming college senior will have to work extra hard to get past the “younger” talent out west.
But as they say, hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.
With help from Paolo Layug of Coaches Unfiltered and Patrick Tancioco of Better Basketball PH
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