JUSTIN Melton has one message for childhood friend and fellow Fil-American Stanley Pringle.
"Go for it (PBA rookie draft). C’mon man, I am waiting for you,” said the San Mig rookie sensation as he enjoined the Asean Basketball League (ABL) star from the Indonesia Warriors to join him in the local pro league.
Pringle has impressed with the Warriors in the ABL and, with his outstanding skills set, is almost certain to be a lottery pick in the event he decides to join the PBA rookie draft set on August 24.
On the other hand, Melton is having a ball in his maiden season in the PBA, winning one championship with San Mig as well as a slam-dunk title while wowing fans with his high-wire act.
If he has his way, Melton said he would like to see Pringle try his luck in Asia's first pro league.
“I personally would tell Stanley to apply here in the PBA,” said Melton, San Mig's second-round pick in this season's draft. “I'm excited, he is an exciting player. I know he can come out here and do work.”
Like the 27-year-old Melton, Pringle, a former Penn State Nittany Lion, can join the draft directly without spending two conferences in the PBA D-League - a requirement for Fil-foreign players under the age of 26.
Pringle is 26.
The only hindrance to Pringle joining the PBA is his contract with the Indonesia Warriors, which by the way is owned by Philadelphia 76ers big boss Erick Thohir.
But with the uncertainty surrounding the new ABL season, Melton said the PBA is the best avenue for Pringle to toughen up and keep his game sharp for his future plans.
“He needs to get his feet wet coz he has not been playing for a minute now because the ABL is not going on, so just come out and get your feet wet, get your rhythm back,” he said.
“This is the PBA man, this is your own country. And it’s an honor to play here,” added Melton, who also starred for the Malaysia Westport Dragons in the ABL last season.
Melton bared his friend is still in pursuit of his NBA dream - and he feels Pringle is good enough to get there.
See video of interview with Justin Melton:
Under the revised PBA guidelines, all aspirants below 26 year old are required to pass through the D-League, while homegrown players are obliged to play atleast one conference.
Players under 26 who served for the national team can also directly apply for the draft.
If and when he decides to join the draft, Pringle should be a welcome addition to the growing list of marquee draftees that is expected to include Bobby Ray Parks Jr, Kevin Louie Alas and D-League MVP Garvo Lanete.
Other top amateur cagers who have expressed interest to join the draft are former ABL star and now Boracay Rhum guard Chris Banchero and Gilas Pilipinas cadets Jake Pascual, Ronald Pascual and Matt Ganuelas.
Spin.ph also learned that two other Fil-foreigners who have played in the ABL - Richard Smith and Philip Morrison - are now processing their immigration documents to prove their Filipino lineage.
Like Melton and Pringle, Morrison, 26, is eligible to join the draft without going through the D-League.
The 6-6 Smith, 24, who played for the Indonesia Warriors, was born in the Philippines and therefore can also directly join the draft, said his agent Marvin Espiritu.
“Hindi pa sure si Smith pero he can apply directly sa draft kung makakakuha siya ng pertinent papers, sana dumating sa oras 'yung recognition (from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation) niya,” said the son of veteran PBA agent Danny Espiritu.
Also contemplating on joining the 2014 rookie pool are UP slotman Raul Soyud, Arellano University star Prince Caperal and Letran Knights banger Kevin Racal.