Division 1 NCAA schools knocking on Paras’ door
KOBE Paras, the FIBA 3x3 Slam Dunk king, was “devastated” by his sudden withdrawal from the University of California, Los Angeles, after the Filipino, who was qualified to play in Division I, had already checked in and had begun summer school.
Steve Angeles of ABS-CBN reported that “suddenly, the UCLA admissions department said he did not meet some of the academic requirements causing the former slam dunk champion to withdraw.”
Kobe’s dad Benjie Paras, the former two-time MVP of the Philippine Basketball Association and the only Rookie of the Year to win the MVP award in the same year, said: “It was really a surprise for us. Kobe was really devastated. I was talking to him, and he was crying.”
Despite reports citing Cathedral High School’s principal saying that the issue involved his Scholastic Assessment Test score, Kobe’s Coach William Middlebrooks said no exact details were given.
Angeles quoted Kobe’s coach as saying: “That was a shock to the entire athletic department. Our understanding was as long as he’s a full qualifier academically, he’d be in school and for whatever reason, the head of admissions made a different decision. It was taken out of context. I think it came across strange to people. Various people interpret it the way they interpreted it, but we don’t know what the reason is. Even the principal has not talked to anybody at UCLA admissions, so therefore whatever the reason is they chose to make this decision, and we don’t have a fact to as why they made the decision.”
Middlebrooks admitted that these issues do happen at all colleges and not just to student athletes.
With Kobe now withdrawn from UCLA, it’s back to the recruitment process for the Division 1 eligible 18-year-old Paras.
With a couple of months before the school year, at least 80 Division 1 schools have reached out to the 6’5” wing, who is expected to be in school and on the court in time for the 2016 college basketball season.
“Kobe is a hot commodity right now. We’re just back to the drawing board about finding the right fit, the right opportunity; that they understand who Kobe is, what his game is all about, what he means to the Philippines,” Middlebrooks said.
Benjie, who flew to Los Angeles last week to find out what went wrong, added: “We want for Kobe to pick a good school that he can play, and at the same time, get good academics. I’m just here to support Kobe, support coach and Cathedral and the organization. Whatever decisions they make, I’m going to be fine with it.”
Angeles reported that Benjie has stayed positive, and while his son has built a large following, he shared a message to the fans: “Don’t worry. He’s going to be ok. He’s in good hands, Cathedral, Middlebrooks, they’re one big family. They will help each other when someone becomes successful they will be happy for him and when someone’s down they will help him get up. He’s in good hands right now and for sure you will see him play again.”
Shortly after it was announced that Kobe withdrew from UCLA, a huge number of NCAA Division 1 schools have reportedly expressed interest to sign the young Filipino basketball phenom.