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The 2023 PBA Rookie Draft Welcomes Unprecedented Number of Applicants

by | Posted on: September 15th, 2023 | No Comments | Sports

The 2023 PBA Rookie Draft is set to make history with the largest batch of rookie applicants ever seen in the league. Over the course of two intense days at the Gatorade Hoops Arena in Mandaluyong, aspiring basketball talents gave their all to showcase their skills and vie for a coveted spot in the PBA. However, the absence of some projected top picks left many coaches disappointed. As we approach the much-anticipated draft day, we delve into the key takeaways and notable prospects from this year’s draft class.

The consensus among coaches interviewed by ESPN is that the 2023 draft class promises depth and potential hidden gems. According to one coach, “There are a ton of quality guys in the first round,” highlighting the talent pool’s strength. Another coach was pleasantly surprised by the size of several players, stating, “There are lots of bigs, maybe five to six quality guys.” The draft also features players who can shift positions seamlessly, with one coach noting, “There are a lot of bigger guys for the 3 (small forward) and 4 (power forward) spots, some ‘in-between’ guys who will adapt to new roles in the PBA.”

While some players may not make an immediate impact, coaches foresee them developing into valuable assets in the future. As one coach explained, “They might not help right away, but in one or two years, they’ll be able to help out.” This highlights the importance of long-term vision and investment in player development in the PBA.

Despite the competitive nature of the scrimmages, several prospects managed to catch the eye of coaches and elevate their draft stock.

Kemark CariƱo, the San Beda big man, impressed with his exceptional footwork, drawing praise from one head coach who singled him out. Archie Concepcion, showcased his skills and likely secured a place in the first round, ultimately winning the Combine MVP award. Shearn Jackson, known for his athleticism, who initially committed to Ateneo but opted for the PBA, displayed his physical prowess despite a challenging game. Troly Mallilin demonstrated poise and efficiency during his time on the court, earning recognition from there coaches. The former FEU forward, Ken Tuffin, who honed his skills in New Zealand, made a strong impression by scoring 16 points in his scrimmage game.

However, it was disappointing to see some highly anticipated players either absent or not participating in the scrimmages. Notable among them was Stephen Holt, a 31-year-old guard with international experience who stayed behind in the United States due to family commitments.

Two other top Fil-foreign prospects, Christian David and Keith Datu, attended but did not participate in the scrimmages. They are expected to have private workouts with PBA teams. Meanwhile, Henry Galinato withdrew from the scrimmages due to dizziness from his long flight from California.

Schonny Winston’s unusual absence also raised eyebrows. The former DLSU player, who played limited minutes in UAAP Season 85, left the venue unaware of his scrimmage game, but some coaches believe this incident won’t significantly affect his draft stock, given his prior college performance.

Additionally, UP’s Zav Lucero and UE’s Luis Villegas are still recovering from ACL injuries, making them intriguing prospects despite their absence from the scrimmages.

Despite not being physically present, Stephen Holt, with his impressive international resume, has garnered significant attention. Coaches who have reviewed his film believe he could be a top choice in the draft. One coach explained, “He’s 31, but you can still get at least three years of top play from him,” highlighting his value as a seasoned player with a bright future.

Phoenix assistant coach Willy Wilson predicts an exceptional group of rookies emerging from the 2023 PBA draft. A record 128 hopefuls applied, with 31 being Fil-foreign players, breaking previous draft applicant numbers. The final list of draft eligibles will be released soon, reflecting the thorough evaluation carried out during the two-day combine.

Several PBA coaches and team officials were spotted during the scouting events, emphasizing the significance of this year’s draft. Notable attendees included NLEX coach Frankie Lim, Phoenix’s JJay Alejandro, Barangay Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, San Miguel Beer’s Leo Austria, and other coaching staff members from various teams.

While quantity may be a notable feature of this year’s draft, it certainly does not come at the expense of quality. Players like Stephen Holt, Christian David, and Deschon Winston, who have excelled in the US NCAA, are expected to be top picks. In addition to them, a diverse range of talents, including Archie Concepcion, Ken Tuffin, and Ricci Rivero, promise to make this draft class a memorable one.

The draft also features darkhorse hopefuls, such as Kyth Jimenez, Larry Arpia, and Alfonso Ventura. These players bring unique skills and attributes that may surprise scouts and teams alike.

Several teams hold multiple picks in the first round, making for an exciting and potentially franchise-altering draft day. Terrafirma, Rain or Shine, Converge, and NorthPort each have two first-round selections, while other teams like Blackwater, Phoenix, NLEX, and Meralco also have early picks.

The 2023 PBA Rookie Draft promises to be a historic event, featuring a record number of applicants and a deep pool of talent. While some top prospects were absent or limited in their participation, the draft class showcases both immediate impact players and those with long-term potential. As coaches and fans eagerly await draft day, the selection of Stephen Holt, among other standout players, will be a topic of intense discussion and anticipation. The PBA’s future is undoubtedly in the hands of these promising rookies, ready to make their mark on the league.