FIL-AM Ryan Wetherell admitted he remains among the less-heralded players in the rookie pool with only a few days to go before the PBA draft on Sunday at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita.
The former University of Southern California Trojan is unperturbed, though.
Armed with a deadly shooting and well-conditioned body, Wetherell said he’s ready to surprise in the pro league, unmindful that he’s not making enough noise unlike others in the rookie pool.
But he hopes to follow in the footsteps of players like Jeffrey Cariaso and Mark Caguioa, who ended up as league superstars even though their names hardly rang a bell before they were drafted.
“I am very ready. I’ve been out here for about a year now, training and working. I got a chance to play with a lot of teams now so I got to know the physicality of the game. I am ready for the challenge,” said Wetherell, who had the privilege of playing in the US NCAA Sweet 16.
Wetherell’s stint in the Filsports Basketball Association during the summer was his biggest break in the Philippines so far and he made the most of it, once exploding for 32 points playing for the Laguna Warriors.
He said he has barely scratched the surface of his full potential.
The 27-year old guard is aware he can still offer more as his credentials include playing in the US NCAA opposite now NBA stars Brandon Jennings, Derrick Rose, James Harden, and Rusell Westbrook.
Wetherell was a former teammate to OJ Mayo, Taj Gibson, Demar Derozan, Nikolai Vucevic and Daniel Hackett.
“Credentials-wise maybe (I have an edge), but I know there’s a couple of other players (in the draft) who played Division 1 too. I do know that the league out here is very competitive too,” he admitted.
“It looks good where I come from, but at the end of the day it all comes down to how you play on the court,” said Wetherell, a regular fixture at the plyometrics gym of famed instructor John Aquino.
As for physical plays in the PBA, Wetherell said he’s ready for it.
“When I first came out here, I was very surprised by how physical the game is. I naturally play very physical anyways and I got a pretty good size body. I work out a lot,” he said.
“I feel like I am ready to handle the physicality of the game (in the PBA).”
Wetherell said he always admired Jimmy Alapag, both on and off the court.
“I know Jimmy, not very well, but I got a chance to pick his brain and talk to him. I wanna be like him, too. That’s the plan, I look up to him,” he said.
Vanessa Golub, Wetherell’s girlfriend who served as one of the round girls during the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. title fight last summer, attested at how his boyfriend devotes so much time into improving his game.
“He’s in the gym every morning. He’s great,” said Golub of Wetherell, who once dreamed of playing in the NBA, but opted to forego the plan after getting a call from local player agent Caloy Allado.
Serving as Wetherell’s ball girl during his daily shootarounds, Golub is optimistic her boyfriend will not disappoint the team that will draft him.
“He’s always the quickest one on the court. He has terrific shooting skills and his energy is tenacious,” she said with a smile, still gasping for air after assisting Wetherell in a 30-minute shootaround at the Uratex Ronac gym in Greenhills.
Watch a VIDEO of Wetherell's shootarounds and interview: