A NUMBER of coaches are in agreement that Kobe Paras is better off foregoing a plan to turn pro and instead stay for one, perhaps two more years in college.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes was the first to offer the advice, telling Star columnist Quinito Henson in an interview that he believes the 6-foot-6 prodigy needs to get his feet wet again in college basketball after seeing so little action in three odd years in the US NCAA.
Paras, 20, saw little action in an uneventful stretch that saw him move from UCLA to Creighton to Cal State Northridge, and Reyes said two more years of college basketball in the Philippines can do the kid a world of good before making the jump to the pro ranks.
University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol agreed.
“If you ask me personally, he has to play in college, just to prepare himself on how we play here,” said Perasol, whose school is believed to be one of the suitors of the high-flying son of former Maroons star Benjie Paras.
“He’s been gone for so long, that is why he has to make adjustments. He’s a smart guy, he knows what he needs to do,” he added.
Paras has been far from impressive since his return, averaging just over 10 points a game in the Gilas Pilipinas cadets' underwhelming campaign in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.
Considering the hype, Paras was expected to dominate in that tournament.
La Salle coach Louie Gonzales also believes Paras is better off staying in college, but only to reacquiant himself to the Philippine brand of basketball before making the next big career move.
“He needs to adjust dun sa Philippine style of basketball. Yung Gilas, malaking tulong sa kanya yan kasi as a player, kailangan niya mag-adapt sa laro dito at makipagtulungan sa mga kasama niya,” Gonzales said.
“Sa tingin ko makakatulong 'yun. Limited lang yung games na makukuha niya with Gilas e. Kailangan siguro na magkaroon siya ng mother team para at least maka-adjust siya.”
Multi-titled coaches Boyet Fernandez and Frankie Lim shared the same sentiments.
“I am always a preacher of finishing school and getting a diploma, so I advise him to go to college first and finish it,” said San Beda coach Fernandez, a registered nurse.
Lim said: “I think he has to go to school, finish school. Hindi pwedeng puro basketball. It’s just a phase of your life. After that, what?”
Lim said a year or two in college can help Paras blossom into the player he’s expected to be.
“How old is Kobe? One or two years in college, that would increase his stock as a player, para pag dating niya ng PBA, hinog na,” Lim continued. “Some people just like to start it too soon for some reason.”
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin made the only dissenting opinion - and made perfect sense. He said that when it comes to Paras’ development, it’s all about where he feels motivated to work.
“I think Kobe’s development, at his age, is totally dependent on where he sees himself and where he will be motivated to put in the necessary work,” said the former Gilas coach.