PBA Draft

Is Christian David the PBA Draft’s unmissable prospect?

Naveen Ganglani

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Is Christian David the PBA Draft’s unmissable prospect?

BULLDOG. Christian David played for Butler University in the collegiate ranks.

Butler Basketball's Twitter page

Christian David, a 6-foot-6 prospect who played NCAA Division 1 basketball in the United States, joins the PBA Rookie Draft

MANILA, Philippines – The atmosphere at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday, September 13, underwent a seismic shift during the 2023 PBA Draft Combine. 

Amid the fervent intensity of a scrimmage featuring numerous promising PBA Rookie Draft hopefuls, a wave of intrigue and curiosity swept through the room as 6-foot-6 Filipino prospect Christian David made his entrance. 

In an instant, all eyes were irresistibly drawn to this towering figure, marking the arrival of a potential high-caliber performer in Asia’s oldest professional league.

David’s presence was all the more significant considering his flight had touched down in Manila only earlier that very morning. Consequently, he chose not to join the intense scrimmage, opting instead to engage in discussions with a few PBA team coaches.

The first of these exchanges unfolded with Yeng Guiao, the head coach of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, who own the third and fourth picks of the draft on Sunday, September 17, at Market! Market! mall in Taguig City.

David was expected to participate in practices with teams over the next few days, with many of them curious on how he holds up against PBA-level competition. NLEX, which owns pick No. 6 in the draft, was interested in inviting David for a workout. Converge asked David to train on Thursday, September 14, but according to sources, he opted not to show up, making people wonder if he’s already been guaranteed a higher selection.

Because of his talent, there’s a possibility David may fall no lower than fifth if health concerns regarding his knees are alleviated in private workouts.

“I’ve always wanted to play for the Philippines and in the Philippines, so I decided that the PBA is a good fit for me. And I’m excited to play in front of all the fans and let’s see what happens,” David, 25, told Rappler in an exclusive interview during the combine. 

“I knew a little bit,” he said of the PBA. “I watched highlights here and there. I tried to keep in the loop with all the players, but I didn’t get to watch too much because of the time difference [back home].”

Born to Filipino parents, David emerged as one of the promising prospects entering the United States college basketball scene in the class of 2017. 

The Ontario, Canada native embarked on a topsy-turvy path that saw him spend his final two high school seasons at Vermont Academy in the East Coast. At his height, he was an image of the evolution of position-less basketball, showcasing versatility as a floor-spreading shooter.

His skills on the court attracted the attention of top-tier NCAA Division I schools such as Creighton, Michigan, Baylor, and Pitt. However, David ultimately chose to further his basketball journey at Butler University. His decision was influenced by a strong connection he shared with one of the assistant coaches, marking the beginning of his pursuit of excellence in the sport.

In his time at Vermont Academy, David’s talent did not go unnoticed. He left an indelible mark on the recruiting scene, earning the prestigious title of being the number one recruit in Vermont, as reportedly recognized by 247Sports’ composite rankings. Furthermore, his skills and versatility on the court helped him secure the 23rd spot for his position and a noteworthy 92nd overall nationally at a certain point.

But David’s journey has had its setbacks, as he battled through ACL injuries, one on each knee. These injuries took a toll on his college career and limited his production during his five seasons with the Butler Bulldogs. Against the challenges, he put forth his best performance during the 2019-2020 season, where he averaged 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds in 14 minutes per contest. 

Back in 2020, when current Converge head coach Aldin Ayo was at the helm of UST, he expressed interest in recruiting David. Due to the pandemic’s disruptive influence, the potential move never materialized, a source close to the matter told Rappler. 

In September 2022, David took an exciting step when he was signed by the Seoul Samsung Thunders in the Korean Basketball League to serve as their Asian import, replacing Will Navarro. 

However, his tenure with the franchise proved to be short-lived, lasting just three months. Concerns regarding the strength of his knees became a significant obstacle, preventing him from actively participating in games. 

“I’m pretty much 100%,” David responded to the question of his durability. “I’d say I need a little more conditioning, but I’ll be all right soon.”

David’s basketball prowess is anchored on his catch-and-shoot ability, particularly from beyond the arc, with a penchant for the corners. But he has to be more efficient, seeing as his best shooting season from long range was 33.1%. 

He has a knack for moving without the basketball, finding the right spots, and creating opportunities for himself. Whether it’s making himself available for drop-off passes that lead to easy baskets near the rim or crashing the offensive glass for rebounds and put-back opportunities, David has versatility and basketball IQ.

“I’m naturally a playmaker and a scorer,” David said, then later added: “My ball handling needs some work. Just all aspects of my game, I think I can always improve.”

The soft-spoken David said he’s “coachable” and will do “whatever the team needs me to do” – the type of phrases coaches like to hear.

He also said he has “no expectation” of where he’ll end up, but he didn’t need to voice out the obvious: that he will most certainly end up somewhere, it’s just a matter of finding out where that is, and if his talents can blossom in that environment.

In the midst of a stacked 2023 PBA Draft class, where teams see potential role players even into the later rounds, David has emerged as one of the most captivating prospects.

His journey from the United States to Philippine shores has piqued the curiosity of many. While his past achievements certainly contribute to the promise he carries, it’s his future performances on the hardwood that will define his professional trajectory. 

The key factor, of course, lies in his ability to stay healthy and prove that he’s not just a prospect with potential but a player who can make a significant impact at the next level. Only time will unveil the true narrative of David in Philippine basketball. – Rappler.com

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