Kobe Paras keeps options open
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Kobe Paras remains enrolled at California State University Northridge and even as he’s decided to turn pro, the door is still open for the 20-year-old, 6-6 Gilas star to play for the Matadors varsity in the next US NCAA Division I season until he signs with an agent.

“Kobe is in great academic as well as behavioral standing with Northridge and will be welcomed back if he decides not to sign with an agent and play collegiate basketball for the 2018-19 season,” said a statement from Middlebrooks Basketball. Coach William Middlebrooks is the founder of Middlebrooks Academy in Los Angeles where Paras finished high school.

Paras’ father PBA legend Benjie is now in the US attending to his son’s needs. Benjie has been in the US for two weeks and will be back in Manila on March 20. He said Paras’ priority is high-level training with Middlebrooks. “Kobe’s still enrolled,” said Benjie. “We’re in the process of finalizing everything. We’re exploring options. We’re entertaining possible endorsement contracts. We’re looking at whether Kobe can play in the NBA D-League. Right now, we have no idea what will happen. When coach Reggie (Theus) left Northridge, Kobe started to rethink his future.”

Theus, 60, is the former NBA star who recruited Paras out of Creighton University to move to Northridge. He coached Northridge for five seasons, compiling a 53-105 mark. Theus averaged 18.5 points in 1,026 games over 13 NBA regular seasons for Chicago, Kansas City, Sacramento, Atlanta, Orlando and New Jersey from 1978-79 to 1990-91. As a coach, he piloted New Mexico State to a 25-9 record in 2006-07 and that led to a contract to call the shots for Sacramento in the NBA. Last season, Theus steered Northridge to a 6-24 overall mark.

“This week, coach Reggie and athletic director Dr. Brandon Martin were fired from the staff at Northridge,” said Middlebrooks Basketball. “This decision has set the stage for Kobe to test the waters and as of today, has decided to enter the professional world of basketball. When is it the right time to enter the NBA draft is a question that every basketball player has to answer for themselves. Today, Kobe is ready to make the leap in this direction. As his brand is very vast and stretches across global boundaries, Kobe’s main goal is to diversify and challenge himself even more. Yet, there is a substantial amount of work that needs to be done for this goal to be met and Kobe recognizes and welcomes this test.”

Middlebrooks is supervising Paras’ training in L. A. “Coach Will has top people in the country working on his team and training Kobe,” said Middlebrooks’ wife Nia who has handled press, academics and other priorities for Paras since he was 15. “We will release details about his developmental team soon.”

Since Paras’ announcement to turn pro the other day, he has received numerous commercial offers from the Philippines. He was restricted by the US NCAA from commercial engagements but is now free to explore opportunities. But until Paras signs with an agent, he remains eligible to play in the US NCAA.

“Globally, the doors are wide open for Kobe,” said Middlebrooks Basketball. “He will begin intense training full-time and look forward to demonstrating his skills to professional teams and scouts. Kobe will also begin his ‘professional brand development team’ and start to pursue endorsement opportunities.”

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