Meet Filipino NBA prospect Kobe Paras, son of PBA great Benjie – the pro league’s only Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Rookie of the Year winner in the same year.
Named after former Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, the 18-year-old player has over the last three years been consistently groomed to be the Philippines’ next big thing. His ultimate goal, in fact, is to make it to the NBA someday and become the first Filipino to do so.
Just like Bryant, the Filipino is blessed with high-flying ability who excels at slashing to the hoop and has more spring in his step than his 6-foot-7-inch, 190-pound frame would suggest.
Since moving to the United States in 2013, Kobe has been making waves with his electrifying play as a high school star for LA Cathedral. He is still in the US to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division and pursue his NBA dream.
This coming season, Kobe will be wearing a Bluejays jersey as he recently committed to Creighton University. He had originally committed since October 2014 to join the UCLA Bruins – one of the best basketball programs in the US – but was forced to pull out after failing to meet certain academic requirements of his admission to the university.
Since playing for the La Salle Greenhills here in the Philippines, to his playing days with Cathedral High and Middlebrooks Academy in Los Angeles, all the way to where is bound now, Kobe has been highly touted to become a potential NBA prospect.
His favorable size and length, athleticism, sweet-shooting ability, and relentless will have captured the eyes of NBA scouts. They see the potential in him to be a versatile all-around player who also has the athleticism to jam the ball hard at the basket.
In his basketball-crazy home country, Kobe is already a huge figure. The promising forward led the Philippines to a gold-medal finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia U18 3×3 Championships. Two years later, he also became YouTube sensation when he won the FIBA 3x3 World Championships Slam Dunk Championship at the Merdeka Square in Jakarta, Indonesia, beating USA’s Demonte Flannigan and Spain’s Antonio Morales in the finals.
Soaring over four people for a one-handed tomahawk, Kobe scored a perfect 30 points on his first three dunks in the championship round and finished with a total of 117 points.
His jaw-dropping performance also included dunking over a parked motorcycle on the court with teammate Kiefer Ravena, seated on the bike, and then a one-handed tomahawk slam off four people.
After his well-documented shattered dreams of playing for the UCLA, he had already moved forward as he immediately found a home to play in Creighton University, still an NCAA Division I school.
The sudden turn of event might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Kobe as he will now have a fair chance of making a name for himself. He will now have a chance to fight to be a top guy for the Bluejays under coach Greg McDermott, father of Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott.
The Bluejays have produced NBA players such as Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks, Doug McDermott of the Chicago Bulls, Anthony Tolliver of the Sacramento Kings and former NBA coach Paul Silas.
At Creighton, Kobe is eligible to play for four full years. With this golden opportunity, he can impress NBA scouts and eventually make it all the way to the world’s biggest league one day.