UNIVERSITY of the East continued to load up for its future, securing the commitment of Fil-Am winger CJ Payawal.
Red Warriors coach Jack Santiago personally recruited the 6-foot-5 forward from Gurnee, Illinois, hoping that he could help the team's decade-long Final Four drought.
"I think he can be a replacement sa slot na naiwan ni Rey Suerte," said the first-year head coach.
"Right now, I need talaga ng wing guy na at the same time, can play at the four who can also do defense and be a factor in that end."
Payawal, 22, can still play for two years in Recto and will be cleared to play for UAAP Season 84.
He first enrolled in Des Moines Area Community College before spending two seasons in University of Illinois-Springfield, where he averaged 4.3 points in just three games in his sophomore year with the Prairie Stars.
Payawal transferred to St. Xavier where he posted 5.7 points in 10.5 minutes with the Cougars, including a season-high 15 points against Judson.
He joins an intriguing offseason haul for UE, which includes Fil-Ams Kyle Paranada and Brian Enriquez, San Beda guard Josiah Alcantara, and St. Clare forward Orin Catacutan.
UE has not been in the postseason since its runner-up finish in 2009, when the Red Warriors were still bannered by Paul Lee.