College basketball season has officially begun with the opening of the NCAA cage wars. In two weeks' time, the UAAP season kicks off as well. 2012 will be a good year for college basketball mainly because of the immense volume of talent there is today. In both leagues, you will find top quality basketball players that are enjoyable to watch. Here are my choices for the top twenty college players to look out for:
1. Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (National University). Undeniably the most exciting player to watch, last year's UAAP MVP promises to be even more dominating this season. Ray-ray was also named MVP in the recent Fil-Oil Cup, with norms of 18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals. His team, National University, won the pre-season tournament. Parks' sudden change of heart, after he committed to suit up for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the U.S. NCAA Division 1 in 2010, was dubbed a "mystery" by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He was even ranked No. 31 among shooting guards that were going to see action in the 2011 NCAA Season in the U.S.
2. Gregory Slaughter (Ateneo). 6'11" former National team center Greg Slaughter will be towering once more in the UAAP. There is just nobody who can singlehandedly challenge him inside the paint. Now that he has matured and is certainly more confident about his skills, Greg will most likely exceed his imposing Fil-Oil numbers of 18.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. After all, he is used to locking horns with bigger foes in international competitions, including those from Serbia, Iran, Korea, China and the United States. In the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Greg averaged 5.7 markers on a 59.3% shooting, four boards and one block.
3. Kiefer Ravena (Ateneo). Sensational Blue Eagle Kiefer Ravena, last UAAP season's top rookie, is expected to carry most of the scoring load for Ateneo this 2012. Fondly called the "Blue Mamba", this young star's basketball I.Q. is so high that former Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman wanted to snatch him for the national team while he was still in high school. Ravena's on-court savvy and basketball prowess are way beyond his years.
4. Calvin Abueva (San Sebastian). The man known as "The Beast" is expected to be just that, a beast in the hard-court this season. Calvin was a monster in the Fil-Oil Cup, posting norms of 19.1 points and 10.6 caroms. His barreling drives are almost impossible to halt. Last year's NCAA MVP is hungry for another title, which he had a taste of in 2009. If it's true that he will be joining the pros after this season, Abueva will stop at nothing to lead the Stags to the NCAA crown this 2012.
5. Ian Sanggalang (San Sebastian). This 6'7" Pampanga-native is raring to make a colossal impact this season, and help the Stags dominate the NCAA. He used the Fil-Oil Cup as a warm-up, and ruled the tournament in scoring with 19.7 points per game on a 56% field goal shooting. He also ranked 4th in rebounding and shot-blocks, with 11.4 and 1.9 respectively. Ian is undoubtedly the best post player in the NCAA today.
6. Kevin Alas (Letran). Kevin is, without a doubt, the most talented player in the NCAA today. A member of the NCAA Mythical Team in Season 87, the son of Letran coach Louie Alas has consistently led the Knights in scoring since his rookie year in 2009. He was the second in the scoring ladder last season with 17.5 markers a game. Kevin was reportedly invited to the Smart Gilas cadet pool recently. With so many moves, the young Alas is a headache to any defender assigned to shackle him. It seems also that he is getting better with his outside sniping each year.
7. RR Garcia (FEU). This spitfire from Zamboanga will once again command the Tamaraws in their quest for the elusive UAAP diadem this season. Ryan Roose or RR has evolved from a witty playmaker to an explosive scorer. The 2010 UAAP MVP led FEU in scoring and assists last year, with 15.07 and 3.36 respectively per game. He is one of the deadliest 3-point bombers in the league as well. What makes him even deadlier is that he can shoot off the dribble, or wriggle through the defense with cat-quick penetrations. In the recent Fil-Oil Cup, RR unleashed 17 treys in nine games.
8. Norbert Torres (La Salle). Burly 6'7" La Salle center Norbert Torres has vastly improved his craft from last season. He was the Green Archers main man during the pre-season, and led his team to upset victories against top-seeded teams Ateneo, San Sebastian and San Beda, en route to the Fil-Oil finals. In the semis match up against the Red Lions, he totally outclassed Nigerian Olaide Adeogun of San Beda, with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, versus the latter's seven markers and six boards. Norbert has developed dazzling post moves that make it tough to guard him one-on-one. He also has a respectable perimeter shot.
9. Olaide Adeogun (San Beda). 6'8" Nigerian Olaide Adeogun hopes to duplicate what compatriot Sam Ekwe and American Sudan Daniel have done for San Beda, and that is to dominate the league at the center position. Of course, both Ekwe and Daniel won MVP honors and championship rings. He was highly recommended by Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Bayno to the Red Lions, who first discovered this gentle giant. Ola is undoubtedly bull-strong yet agile and athletic. He is expected to be the king of the boards in the coming NCAA. In the Fil-Oil, he averaged 9.6 caroms even when playing just 18 minutes per game.
10. Emmanuel Mbe (National University). Another reason why the Bulldogs are optimistic this season, other than Parks, is the emergence of Cameroonian Emmanuel Mbe. He was the second-best rebounder during the Fil-Oil with 11.6 per game, and also aided Parks with 14.6 markers per outing. NU eventually swept the pre season tournament. And with Mbe and Parks leading the charge, the Bulldogs aim to do the same in the UAAP.
11. Eric Camson (Adamson). Eric Camson has stepped up big for the Falcons during the summer, leading his team in both scoring and rebounding with 13.4 and 8.5 respectively. He is clearly hungry for redemption after Adamson missed the finals ticket last year.
12. Alex Nuyles (Adamson). Despite a luck-luster performance during the Fil-Oil, this hotshot from Makati remains an exciting spectacle in college basketball. Alex Nuyles is fast becoming a complete scorer, with creative drives and an improved outside shooting. He is still expected to carry the scoring cudgels for the Falcons this year.
13. Terrence Romeo (FEU). The 2010 UAAP Rookie of the Year is slowly becoming the player he was during his high school days — a big-time scorer. He can score at will, with outstanding ball-handling skills and spectacular hang-times. And now that he is gaining more and more confidence, he can bury the long-distance shots as well. Last year, Terrence collected ten points and 3.2 assists per game.
14. Kevin Ferrer (UST). 2010 UAAP Juniors MVP Kevin Ferrer is being groomed to be the Growling Tigers' go-to-guy, and he may just be ready for that role this season. The 6'3" small forward is a natural scorer, complete with post moves, dribble penetrations, and long-range artillery. This 2012 may be a breakout season for Ferrer.
15. Jeron Teng (La Salle). This former Xavier Stallion is bent on bringing his high-scoring game in the UAAP. He once erupted with 105 points in a Tiong Lan game last year. When he penetrates, he just tears the defense apart with a strong upper body and remarkable balance. In the Fil-Oil, Jeron proved that he can play with the big boys, as he was the next best scorer in the Green Archers' bench after Torres, with 10.8 markers an outing.
16. Baser Amer (San Beda). This ace playmaker from Davao will enter his sophomore year with the daunting task of showing the way for the Red Lions in scoring, and he seems comfortable with it. The 2010 NCAA Juniors MVP was one of the forerunners for San Beda in the Fil-Oil, averaging 9.1 points, 4.4 boards and 4.1 assists per game. Baser commonly posted triple-doubles in high school, and he is slowly trying to relive those glory days. In Game 1 of last year's finals, he gathered nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
17. Nico Salva (Ateneo). Nico Salva will try to end his college basketball career this year on a winning note. As one of the leaders of the Blue Eagles, he will certainly move heaven and earth this year to snare another UAAP crown for Ateneo. He was the team's second best scorer in Season 74, with 13.7 markers per game, when the Eagles earned their four-peat. Nico also had 10.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the Fil-Oil.
18. LA Revilla (La Salle). Veteran guard LA Revilla is one of the reasons why La Salle will be a dark horse this season. He is the glue that keeps the Archers together, especially during crunch time. He is also willing to take the crucial shots. LA is once again expected to play big for the Archers in 2012. His Fil-Oil numbers have been notable, with 9.7 points, 4.9 boards, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
19. Carlo Lastimosa (St. Benilde). High-scoring guard Carlo Lastimosa had an astounding season in 2011, and he is aching to follow it up with an even more glaring performance this year. He was the 2010 NCAA top rookie as he led the league in scoring with 17.3 points per game. Last year, he ranked 8th in scoring, with 14.9 markers per outing.
20. Roy Sumang (UE). Red Warrior Roy Sumang is ready for war this UAAP season. He ranked 6th in scoring in the Fil-Oil and is UE's main gunner with 14.6 points per game. This 2012, the former Letran high school standout will be the Warriors' first option in offense.
In this 75th UAAP Season, my choices for the top twenty players are as follows:
- Bobby Ray Parks
- Greg Slaughter
- Kiefer Ravena
- RR Garcia
- Norbert Torres
- Emmanuel Mbe
- Eric Camson
- Alex Nuyles
- Terrence Romeo
- Kevin Ferrer
- Jeron Teng
- Nico Salva
- LA Revilla
- Roy Sumang
- Karim Abdul (UST)
- Jeric Fortuna (UST)
- Mike Silungan (UP)
- Aljon Mariano (UST)
- Rodney Brondial (Adamson)
- Chris Javier (UE)
And for the NCAA, since San Sebastian top gun Ronald Pascual won't see action until perhaps in the second round, I pick these players as best twenty this 88th Season:
- Calvin Abueva
- Ian Sanggalang
- Kevin Alas
- Olaide Adeogun
- Baser Amer
- Carlo Lastimosa
- Josan Nimes (Mapua)
- Noube Happi (EAC)
- Gabriel Banal (Mapua)
- Nate Matute (JRU)
- Jake Pascual (San Beda)
- Jett Vidal (Perpetual Help)
- Jam Cortez (Letran)
- Cris Cayabyab (Lyceum)
- Mark Cruz (Letran)
- Raymond Almazan (Letran)
- Rome Dela Rosa (San Beda)
- Femi Babayemi (Perpetual Help)
- Robert Bartolo (St. Benilde)
- Rocky Acidre (Arellano)
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.