FOR a change, NCAA juniors MVP Darius Estrella is staying put at Jose Rizal University.
Amid an exodus of high school stars to top UAAP schools, the six-foot forward said he decided not to leave JRU out of loyalty to the school where he won top individual honors in the Season 90 juniors tournament.
He turned down offers from other teams including UAAP schools in the process. Sources said La Salle was one of the schools that tried to recruit the 18-year-old Estrella.
“Committed na po ako sa JRU kasi doon po ako galing,” Estrella said on Sunday in an interview after a brief practice at The Arena in San Juan for the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) All-Star Game.
“Utang na loob ko rin sa kanila ’yun. Hindi rin ako magiging MVP kung hindi dahil sa kanila,” he added.
Estrella averaged 13.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.94 blocks for the Light Bombers, who finished fourth in Season 90 after losing to eventual runner-up Mapua.
The young cager from Jalajala in Rizal said he was surprised to win the MVP plum over several other high school standouts in the NCAA.
“Shocked,” said Estrella. “Hindi ko in-expect.”
“Maraming magagaling. Natapos ako ng first round, seventh yata ako sa MVP race kaya hindi ko in-expect na end of the season, ako ang napili,” said Estrella, son of former Letran Knight Danny Estrella.
Prince Rivero of La Salle Greenhills won the Season 89 MVP and joined the Green Archers in the UAAP.
Estrella and 23 other top high school players will play in the NBTC All-Star Game on March 8 at the Meralco Gym.
“Blessed ako na nakasama ako. Sa dami ng magagaling po, napili ako,” said Estrella.