Samboy de Leon finally lands Star roster spot - a year after getting drafted by Hotshots
Samboy de Leon was Star's fourth-round pick at 39th overall in the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft, but didn't land a spot in the Hotshots' lineup until this season. Dante Peralta

SAMBOY de Leon truly is a late bloomer.

He first toiled in Far Eastern University’s Team B for three years before transferring to Centro Escolar University where he came into his own and blossomed into a star.

Now, the Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija native, a year after getting drafted in the PBA, has finally earned a roster spot at Star as one of the surprises when the lineups were released during the media launch of Season 42.

“We were not able to sign him up (last year),” Hotshots governor Rene Pardo said of their fourth-round pick, 39th overall in the 2015 Draft. “Ngayon, he will be given a contract.”

The hard work is bearing fruit for the 24-year-old De Leon, who honed his skills in the D-League for Café France after failing to land a PBA contract following the 2015 draft.

The 2014 National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (Naascu) MVP even played a few games for CEU last month in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL), a new league that allows alumni to suit up for their college teams.

Then the Hotshots call-up finally came for the 6-foot-3 cager, a power forward in college who has developed a capable outside shot to slide to the wing positions.

“He has improved a lot dun sa shooting niya,” Pardo said. “Plus, we will need another player aside from Paul Lee to keep up with the shooting ng two-spot and three-spot na na-vacate dahil kay James. Hopefully, with Paul Lee and him, ma-recover y namin yung lost points na yun.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos