Here we are at the end of the road. We’ve seen the rookie landscape this season and its crop of first year players. With the elimination round now over, it’s time for us to evaluate the top five rookies of the conference.
5. Joshua Aguilon
I had a hard time picking who to place on the 5th spot for ending installment of the Rookie Ladder. But since Aguilon has the 5th highest point total among rookies (with 5 points), I went with him. Credit has to go to Aguilon for being ready to play when his number is called. Interestingly, he hasn’t not missed a field goal this year. The first year player looks like an exciting addition to the Tamaraws and could be a solid contributor for years to come.
4. Kib Montalbo
Montalbo is actually one of my favourite rookies in this year’s draft class. He actually had his share in the limelight when Thomas Torres went down with an injury and was asked to fill in the guard spot. His terrific play helped DLSU notch some wins in that critical stage of the tournament. Montalbo is a solid player on defense and also has also shown that he can knock down long range shots. He plays with a lot of poise and control which is impressive for a young player like him. Despite his amazing run being was short-lived due to Thomas Torres returning to the line-up, I think it’s fair to say we can expect Montalbo to be a great player for DLSU in the seasons to come
3. Paul Desiderio
Desiderio hasn’t always had the biggest numbers among rookies this season, but he’s been consistent in getting a couple of buckets, rebounds and assists every game. Recently, he’s also been knocking down some jumpshots and attacking the rim aggressively. Desiderio has a nice all-around game and will be an interesting piece for the UP Maroons in years to come.
2. Axel Inigo
The Falcons have really struggled at the point guard spot this season and it puts Inigo in a favorable spot moving forward. With a little more training, experience and hard work, Inigo can be the main playmaker for the struggling team and it’s certainly not impossible for us to see the young Falcon as the future go-to point guard for Adamson. At times throughout the season, you could see flashes of Inigo’s greatness: dishing the rock with precision, breaking down defenders and driving the lane, finishing creatively and knocking down the long ball. While he was spectacular at times, there were also some moments of inconsistency that reminded us of how young and raw he still is. Sometimes, the jumpers would betray Inigo and other times, he would also rack up several turnovers in games. With Coach Leo Austria leaving Adamson, it will be interesting what Duremdes plans for Inigo.
1. Kyles Lao
Kyles Lao will finish with the most SPs among rookies and should win Rookie of the year. He’s also my pick for Rookie of the year and he has been the favorite for practically the entire season. Kyles Lao is a spectacular player and I am constantly amazed at how he scores among the giants of the UAAP. He’s listed at a very generous 6’0”, probably is more around 5’9 or 5’10, but despite being undersized, he successfully finishes around the many Cameroonians in the league while making it look easy. He is also very creative at attacking the basket with his arsenal of spin moves, side steps and acrobatic layups. Even at a young age, Kyles already knows how to score the ball and is a very talented player.
Rookie Ladder pick for ROY award: Kyles Lao
Previous Rookie Ladders:
What makes a player in the UAAP eligible for the Rookie of the Year award?
The UAAP differentiates between Rookies (freshman college students from local high schools) and first year players. Only rookies are eligible for the ROY award in UAAP, which means that players like Ateneo’s Chris Newsome, La Salle’s Jason Perkins and the other foreign-born first year players are not included in the mix for the award.