ROBBIE Herndon is one of the 44 applicants hoping to fulfill a dream in getting his name called in the PBA Rookie Draft on Sunday.
Years ago though, the Fil-Am forward wasn’t even thinking about playing college ball while finishing his degree in the US.
“I kinda lost my focus on basketball and I just want to focus on my school and get my degree,” said Herndon, a graduate of Criminal Justice at San Francisco State.
“I just want to be a fireman, or [have] a regular job. I don’t need a degree to be a fireman. I just got a degree. My family wanted me to get a degree so I got that.”
Upon finishing college, however, Herndon realized his passion for basketball never wavered, but in fact only intensified. He decided to take a second chance at a playing career in his father’s home country.
“I did that (finish my degree), but I miss basketball. I think I should go to the Philippines and give it a try,” said Herndon, who initially got an invite to try out for San Beda when he was in high school but chose to play in the US NCAA Division II.
“I first came here with Manny Pacquiao and his friends for two weeks. They were talking to me about coming with them to the Philippines. I went back and I’ve been here for one-and-a-half years in the Philippines," added the 24-year-old cager.
The 6-foot-3 Herndon first turned heads in the Philippine basketball scene after beating two-time PBA MVP Willie Miller in the finale of a one-on-one tournament sponsored by Red Bull. He went on to play in the PBA D-League where he suited up for Victoria Sports before getting picked up by Marinerong Pilipino in the next conference for a playoff run that fell short.
Yet even with an unsuccessful stint with his first D-League team, Herndon remained grateful to Victoria Sports for the break.
“It was a tough first conference. We had a really bad record. We lost a lot of games. It was a new team but I couldn’t thank Victoria Sports enough, coach Jino Manansala, and the bosses for getting the opportunity because if it wasn’t for them, I was highly-recruited by the teams the next conference because of what I was able to do at Victoria. I give a lot of thanks to them for the opportunity to show what I can do,” said Herndon.
After his stint with Wangs and Marinero Filipino, Herndon is now setting his sights on the PBA draft where he is projected as a late first rounder. He made a big impression in the PBA Draft Combine where he was part of the Mythical Five along with Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and Jason Perkins.
Still, Herndon admitted feeling nervous about the draft.
“I think about it every day. It’s all I’ve been thinking about – the draft. I’ve been waiting for close to two years for his moment. It’s been a long, long time. I’m super excited. I’m really nervous and excited, but mostly I’m nervous. It’s a big deal for me. This could set my career here. I’m preparing for the best,” said Herndon.