Japeth Aguilar’s American dream continues after the six-foot-nine former Talk ‘N Text big man was picked in the seventh round by the Santa Cruz Warriors in the 2012 NBA D-League draft.
Aguilar, who has been in the United States since August where he attended workouts with several D-League teams, was selected with the 13th pick in the seventh round and the 109th pick overall in the draft. He is now officially the first pure homegrown Filipino player to be drafted in the NBA D-League.
Other Filipino players have suited up, though, in other American minor basketball leagues, most notably Vince Hizon and Bong Alvarez, who both saw action in the United States Basketball League several years ago.
Santa Cruz was one of the teams that invited Aguilar to work out, and apparently they were impressed enough with what they saw to tab him. The team had earlier promised Aguilar’s agent that they would draft him, and although initial reports had him going as early as the second round, in the end the Warriors still picked him.
While in the States, Aguilar underwent several grueling training sessions with Caltech’s Filipino assistant coach Leo Balayon, who focused on Aguilar’s outside shooting and training him to play the small forward spot.
Former NBA player JaJuan Johnson, who played a season with the Boston Celtics, was the top overall pick by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
A few minutes after the draft ended, Aguilar was greeted with several messages of congratulations from Filipino fans and PBA players alike. Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood (@GNorwood5) said “Congratulations bruh. Make the most of your opportunity.”
Aguilar himself took to Twitter (@japethaguilar25) to express his gratitude about being drafted.
“Thank you Lord!!! God is great!!” was his first tweet, which he followed up with “God is in control of everything. Will work hard for the next 2 weeks.”
The Warriors are the D-League affiliate of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. The town reportedly has a sizeable Asian population, which would auger well for both the team and Aguilar.
During the live-blog of the draft, a guest asked the NBA D-League editors about Aguilar’s ceiling, and here was their candid assessment of the Western Kentucky product:
“Honestly, he’s (Aguilar) got a while to go. He’s a ridiculous athlete — and, when you combine that with his height, he’s an extremely rare combo. But he needs to develop more as a Basketball Player (capital letters), in terms of positioning, post moves, acumen, etc. etc. But if he comes together like he can, he’ll get an NBA look. They don’t make players who look like him too often.” /yahoosports with Jonas Panerio