Just a day after playing his final collegiate game, De La Salle Green Archers and Gilas Pilipinas big man Justine Baltazar threw his name into the PBA Season 47 Rookie Draft scheduled for May 15.
The 6'7" Baltazar averaged 12.6 points and 10.8 rebounds for DLSU in UAAP Season 84, where they were ousted in the Final Four Friday by the UP Fighting Maroons. He also spent time with Gilas Pilipinas, where Tab Baldwin used him primarily as a small forward and encouraged him to shoot from the outside.
This versatility will make Baltazar one of the top prospects in the draft, which has 75 applicants vying to be picked by the PBA's 12 teams.
Another intriguing prospect is Sedrick Barefield, a 6'2" point guard who played 44 games for the Oklahoma City Blue in the NBA G-League. He also suited up for the Southern Methodist University Mustangs and the Utah Utes in the US NCAA Division 1.
Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Jeremiah Gray, who both failed to complete their requirements for last year's draft, made it this time after the league eased its requirements for foreign-born applicants. Both spent time in the PBA's inaugural 3x3 league these past few months and are high on the wish list of several teams.
The 6'7" Rosser, younger brother of TNT's Matt, played for UC Riverside and at 27 is considered one of the most PBA-ready prospects. Gray, 25, tore his ACL last November while playing 3x3 and will be out for most of the year. The 6'5" suited up for Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League and Dominican University of California in the US NCAA Division 2.
Baltazar's teammate Kurt Lojera, who averaged 10.2 points in UAAP Season 84, is also in the list, along with Ateneo Blue Eagles shooters Gian Mamuyac and Tyler Tio. NU Bulldogs standout Shawn Ildefonso, son of PBA legend Danny, and former UP Fighting Maroons forward Javi Gomez de Liaño, who also suited up for Gilas Pilipinas, are among the other top UAAP prospects.
Other top names in the draft include three big men from the NCAA: Arellano center Justin Arana, a leading contender for NCAA MVP, Letran's 6'7" big Jeo Ambohot who has powered the Knights to the finals, and San Sebastian's 6'6" center JM Calma.
Also hoping to make the big leap to the top tier of the pro league are PBA 3x3 veterans Encho Serrano, Jollo Go and Carlo De Chavez. Serrano, a slashing guard, and the sweet-shooting Go were both standouts for DLSU in the UAAP. De Chavez, a shooter, suited up for the rival Blue Eagles.
The full list of the applicants can be found here.
Nine applicants still have pending requirements. The league will release a final list on the first day of the Rookie Combine, which is scheduled on May 11 and 12 at the Gatorade Sports Center.
The Blackwater Bossing, which won only one game last season, hold the draft's top pick. The Terrafirma Dyip pick second, while league newcomers Converge FiberXers own the third and fourth picks.