The 10 best college basketball players of the 2010s

Dec 25, 2019

HOW do you pick the best? Is it the times they won a championship or bagged a specific award? Or should it be about their lasting power and their overall impact on the game?

It's a hard question to answer, knowing that it's more of a confluence of factors. But to cut the long story short, one thing's definite: they're all winners.

Spin.ph took that challenge head on and selected 10 of the best collegiate players for the 2010s, picking those who left an indelible impression that made the collegiate landscape how we know it today.

Take note that this list covers the years from 2010 to 2019 only and the order does not necessarily imply their respective ranks. Our apologies to those who got left out.

Kiefer Ravena (Ateneo Blue Eagles)

Look for the consummate collegiate star and for sure, Kiefer Ravena's face is plastered on it. The 6-foot court general already had built up quite a hype even before he played his first year in the collegiate ranks for Ateneo, and by the time he's a part of the Blue Eagles, he proved to be as good as advertised.

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Name almost every individual accolade there is in the UAAP and Kiefer probably had it - MVP (twice), Mythical Team (thrice), and Rookie of the Year. More importantly, he was a champion twice, being there at the tailend of coach Norman Black's five-peat run.

Oh yeah, he also won the first three of his record five Southeast Asian Games gold medals while he was still in Katipunan.

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When he graduated in 2015, everybody already knew who Kiefer was.

Jeron Teng (La Salle Green Archers)

Awards, you say? Jeron Teng also had a boatload of hardwares to boast.

The 6-foot-2 forward came to the UAAP as the kid who once scored 104 points for Xavier, but his travails in La Salle also merited a chapter of its own, starting it with a Rookie of the Year honor.

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Teng became a versatile winger for the Green Archers, winning two UAAP crowns - where he was named Finals MVP both times, may we add - missing out on a Mythical Team selection just once in his five years in Taft.

Terrence Romeo (FEU Tamaraws)

Terrence Romeo was the embodiment of a born scorer and the UAAP was in it for the ride. The Imus, Cavite-born guard torched the nets in his four years at Far Eastern University, first winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 as he paired up with that season's MVP RR Garcia.

What followed after that was just pure demolition, with Romeo lighting up the scoreboard time and again, posting multiple 30-point games before he eventually took the MVP award in 2013. It was also no surprise that Romeo's presence kept the Tamaraws as one of the top teams in the UAAP during his tenure.

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Bobby Ray Parks (NU Bulldogs)

Hype was so big for Bobby Ray Parks when the second-generation player, a three-star recruit in the US, chose to play for National University in the UAAP in 2010.

True enough, he was worth every bit of it, turning the perennial cellar-dwellers into instant contenders and setting the stage for the glory years in Jhocson under the guidance of coach Eric Altamirano.

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Parks won two UAAP MVP awards and made it to the Mythical Team in all of his three years with the Bulldogs, who won the championship a year later.

Mac Belo (FEU Tamaraws)

What made Mac Belo one of the top collegiate players of the decade was his uncanny ways of making an impact - silent but deadly.

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The Midsayap, North Cotabato native was the stabilizing presence for Far Eastern University under coach Nash Racela, fully embracing his role while willingly doing the dirty work.

What about his clutch genes, which sent fancied foes La Salle and Ateneo home in back-to-back seasons which culminated in a UAAP championship in 2015, one which came with a Finals MVP to his name in his FEU curtain call.

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Calvin Abueva (San Sebastian Golden Stags)

A supernova in his rookie season for San Sebastian, Calvin Abueva finally took the baton and came to his own when coach Ato Agustin took over the reins in 2010.

The Kapampangan forward was a monster in his next three seasons with the Golden Stags, where he won the NCAA MVP award in 2011 as he led the school's "Pinatubo Trio" as he played alongside Ian Sangalang and Ronald Pascual.

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His fourth year, however, was one for the books as Abueva led the league in points, rebounds, and assists - an unprecedented feat - while also adding four triple-doubles.

However, a disqualifying foul for his punch on Lyceum's Jhygruz Laude took him out of the MVP race and denied him of back-to-back plums. Abueva may have missed out on that honor, but by then everybody knew who 'The Beast' was.

Allana Lim (FEU Lady Tamaraws)

Allana Lim was also a beast of her own during her time for Far Eastern University.

The 5-foot-9 bruiser was the great forward in women's basketball in the early part of this decade, putting everyone on notice in 2011 when she led the Lady Tamaraws to the championship.

She wasn't done yet, capping her collegiate career with back-to-back tiaras as she carried FEU to a perfect 16-0 season where she was named the Season MVP in 2012.

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Afril Bernardino (NU Lady Bulldogs)

By now, everybody knows about the famed unbeaten streak of National University.

But even before that run reached new heights at 96 straight games, Afril Bernardino was there, laying in the foundation for this Lady Bulldogs dynasty.

The 5-foot-8 forward was a three-time UAAP MVP and thrice a member of the Mythical Team, being the go-to girl for NU as it one-by-one toppled its opponents in her last collegiate seasons.

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Unbeaten in those years, Bernardino ended her run for the Lady Bulldogs with three championships to boot.

Ben Mbala (SWU Cobras / La Salle Green Archers)

There's probably no foreign student-athlete who came close this decade to the dominance Ben Mbala had wherever he played.

The Cameroonian was a game-changer in every sense of the word, making immediate impact when he first landed in Cebu and carried Southwestern University to its maiden CESAFI crown in 2012.

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Mbala would later transfer to La Salle, and although he had to wait three years before he made his debut in Taft, he wreaked havoc and won back-to-back MVP awards. That also saw him carry the Green Archers to a UAAP title in 2016.

Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo Blue Eagles)

Even before he could play his first game in college, Thirdy Ravena already had a tough task in his hands trying to step out of the giant shadows of father Bong and kuya Kiefer.

Yet he was his own man by the time he ended his run in Ateneo.

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Bucking his early struggles and a lost year due to academics, Thirdy fully embraced the system of coach Tab Baldwin and proved a beast when the lights were at their brightest, winning three Finals MVP awards - the most in league history - as he capped his UAAP career with a three-peat with Ateneo.

Honorable Mentions:

Allwell Oraeme (Mapua Cardinals)

Allwell Oraeme came out of nowhere and snared the Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and MVP awards in his rookie year in 2015. The Nigerian continued to dominate for Mapua the following year, winning back-to-back MVP plums in what would be the Cardinals' last Final Four run.

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Robert Bolick (La Salle Green Archers / San Beda Red Lions)

Lost in the shuffle at La Salle, Robert Bolick came into his own at San Beda, towing the Red Lions to a three-peat in the NCAA while distinguishing himself as one of the best two-way players in the collegiate ranks until he graduated in 2018. His success story is truly one of a kind.

CJ Perez (Lyceum Pirates)

CJ Perez found a home at Lyceum after starting his career in San Sebastian and unceremoniously exiting due to academics at Ateneo. But his arrival also signalled the Pirates' path to contention, reaching the NCAA Finals twice in 2017 and 2018.

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Rey Suerte (UV Green Lancers / UE Red Warriors)

Rey Suerte was already a star in his own right in Cebu, leading University of the Visayas to three CESAFI crowns, the first and last of which he won the MVP honors. The Monkayo, Compostella Valley later on silenced his doubters, sustaining his super scoring ways in his lone year in University of the East.

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