The 10 Best Players this coming UAAP Season 74

The upcoming UAAP Season 74 may be the most competitive and talented in the last decade; thanks to the 10 players listed below.

1. R.R. Garcia (Season 73 Averages: 17.5 ppg 3.7 rpg 2.6apg 1.3spg)

     I don’t see anyone performing better than last year’s MVP this coming season. He is definitely the best shot-maker in the amateur level. R.R. can score on any defense in the UAAP in a variety of ways; pull-up jump shots off of pick and rolls, dribble drives, jump-shots off the dribble, teardrops, etc. FEU’s offense last year came mostly from R.R. Garcia pick-and-rolls and if this continues under Bert Flores, look for the baby-faced point guard to improve offensively.

2 Things to improve on

As much as the King Tamaraw dominated the ball last year, his assist totals were not that impressive. In order for FEU to get better, he has to learn how and when to pass the ball when coming off of pick and rolls. I expect him to up his assist average a bit.

Everyone saw how Emman Monfort dominated him in the UAAP Finals last year. If there is one thing he should improve, it is his defense. Defense up front always helps the big men down low so if he can prevent penetrations, FEU’s big men can focus on their own men more.

Projected Averages: 18.0 ppg 4.0 rpg 4.5 apg 1.5spg

2. Emmanuel Mbe (Season 73 Averages: 13.4 ppg 12.8 rpg 1.4 bpg)

     Voted as the best center in Season 73, Mbe was also the best defender. His block totals may seem modest but if there was a stat for shots changed, he would have been leading it by miles. Expect the pogo stick of a center to bring his great rebounding skills again this year (although I see his rebounding averages dipping a bit because some teams have upgraded their frontcourt). For NU to return to the Final Four, he must be the defensive anchor that he was last year, and more.

And More…

Most of the points that Mbe scored last year were from jump shots and from offensive rebounds. His post game was pedestrian at best. It must be a priority for him this year to score more on the post. This will suck the defense and free up some space for Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and NU’s shooters.

Another aspect of his game that he has to show more of is passing. With Cocoy Hermosisima maxing out his playing years, NU’s offense will come from posting up the Cameroonian. He will attract double teams and he must learn to pass out of these.

Projected Averages: 15.0 ppg 12.5 rpg 1.8 apg 2.5 bpg

3.  Kiefer Ravena (Filoil Flying V Averages: 13.0 ppg 3.2 rpg 3.7 apg 1.2 spg)

     If R.R. Garcia is the best shot-maker and Paul Lee is the best scorer in the amateur level, Kiefer Ravena is the best offensive player. It is not bold to say this especially if you saw him lead Ateneo to its first Filoil Flying V Championship with the MVP award to boot. The phenom can score on you in so many ways; whether it be jump shots, floaters or lay-ups. What separates him from the two aforementioned players is his court vision. The combination of his scoring skills and his passing abilities are so lethal that his scoring makes him a better passer and his passing makes him a better scorer. So it is just a matter of picking your poison for the whole UAAP.

Despite highlighting his scoring and passing abilities, neither is his best skill; it is decision-making. Watch his game closely and you may notice that he makes the right decision every time.

One thing to consider

Like what Coach Jamike Jarin did in the Junior ranks, Norman Black is easing Kiefer into his eventual role as a starting guard. I have heard rumblings that Coach Black will give him a starting spot at the start of the second round but don’t be surprised if he starts after a few games especially if he wreaks havoc on the defensive end. He may be too hard to resist at that point (Like I, resisting to put him at #1).

Projected Averages 13.5 ppg 3.7 rpg 4.0 apg 1.8 spg

4. Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (Filoil Flying V Averages: 20.9 ppg 5.7 rpg 4.1 apg)

     Ray Parks Jr. averaged staggering numbers in the preseason. At 6’4, he has the body of a PF while playing the SG position. His size is his greatest asset, making it easier for him to shoot over and barrel though people. If you back off of him  he can make you pay because he is a very good 3-point shooter. Add a smooth floater to his offensive arsenal and he sure will give UAAP defenses fits.

Why isn’t he ranked higher than Kiefer?

If you analyzed his Flying V statistics, he shot an average of 15 FGA per game while NU’s 2nd best scorer averaged just 6 shots per game. This means that he dominated the ball in the preseason. While I expect him to do so this season, a good chunk of NU’s offense will also be coming from Mbe post-ups so you should see his ppg totals dip in the season.

Also, Ateneo is a lot deeper than NU, so for Ravena to average 13.0 ppg and be the MVP of the preseason tournament is quite impressive.

Projected Averages: 15.0 ppg 4.0 rpg 3.5 apg

5. Aldrech Ramos (Season 73 Averages: 11.7 ppg 8.2rpg 1.7 apg 2.4 bpg)

     The Smart-Gilas veteran is due for a monster Season 74. With Reil Cervantes gone and Pippo Noundou suffering a major injury (reportedly out for the first round), look for Aldrech Ramos to gobble up rebounds, score more points and block more shots. Ramos is an excellent shot blocker with great timing and a good rebounder with his length. He does great damage on the offensive side of the ball via pick and pop jump shots and off of missed shots.

Offensive development

If one would look back at the years Bert Flores was at the helm as the head coach of FEU, it was noticeable that big men flourished in his system. Bert Flores will surely give Ramos the ball more as the former champion coach has more of an inside-out playbook compared to Glen Capacio. Expect a marked improvement in his low post game.

Although he is due for a great year individually, FEU is in for a tough season due to the loss of Noundou (a player I think, is their difference maker, the one that gives them a bit of spunk considering that FEU’s best players are quite reserved). Aldrech Ramos will bleed for his numbers.

Projected Averages: 14.5 ppg 10.0 rpg 1.5 apg 2.7 bpg

6. Greg Slaughter (Filoil Flying V Averages: 13.5 ppg 8.8 rpg 1.9 apg 1.8 bpg)

SIZE. That’s what Greg Slaughter is all about. At 6’11, he would be towering above everyone this season. He is not a very impressive rebounder and shot blocker for his size but his presence alone will immensely help Ateneo’s 4-Peat quest especially on the defensive end.

He has a lot to work on offensively. Slaughter needs to spend a lot of time in the weight room because his offensive game is very soft. Expect Norman Black to help him polish his post-up moves as he has done with the past Ateneo big men.

Projected Averages: 12.5 ppg 9.0 rpg 1.5 apg 2.0 bpg

7. Nico Salva (Season 73 Averages: 9.6 ppg 5.8 rpg)

Nico Salva has extended his range every year and as he showed in preseason games, his range goes beyond the 3-pt line already. And like every year, his jump shot is looking better.  He will be the primary post-up option of Ateneo as he will be having an advantage against any SF in the UAAP.

Salva would need more adjusting on the defensive end because he will spend most of his time on the court guarding quicker SF’s.

Projected Averages: 12.0 ppg 6.0 rpg

8. Lester Alvarez (Season 73 Averages: 9.6 ppg 2.1 rpg 2.1 apg 1.5 spg)

The Adamson hearthrob officially took the starting PG position away from Jeric Canada last season. This year, it’s all his. Leo Austria will put him in a lot of pick and rolls with Eric Camson. Alvarez will score on jump shots, pull-up 3-pt shots and dribble drives. Look for him to distribute the ball better this season.

Projected Averages: 11.5 ppg 2.0 rpg 4.0 apg 1.8 spg

9. Alex Nuyles (Season 73 Averages: 11.8 ppg 4.4 rpg 1.2 apg)

Alex Nuyles may be the most athletic player in the UAAP. The high-flying guard-forward hasn’t shown any improvements offensively; but what separates him from other players is his on-ball defense.

Projected Averages: 12.0 ppg 5.5 rpg 1.5 apg 1.5 spg

1o. Eric Camson (Season 73 Averages: 9.5 ppg 6.5 rpg)

Camson has one of the most consistent jump shots in the UAAP. He will get the ball more this season on post-ups and pick and rolls

Projected Averages: 11.0 ppg 7.0 rpg

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