The tradition of the FEU Tamaraws basketball program to elevate their high school blue-chip recruits to the college team will continue even in the time of a pandemic.
FEU athletic director Mark Molina confirmed to Rappler on Saturday, January 23, that Baby Tams standouts Jorick Bautista and Patrick Sleat have committed to join the Tamaraws’ senior roster.
“We met with both of them and their parents and they committed already,” Molina said in an exclusive interview.
Both Bautista and Sleat played key roles in leading FEU’s high school squad to the finals of the Season 82 boys’ basketball tournament, where they fell short to the would-be champion NU Bullpups.
Both recruits will add to a young and promising FEU core which is expected to be a consistent Final Four contender whenever the UAAP basketball tournament returns.
Molina said Sleat has a good shot at making it to the final lineup.
“It’s a bit unique what he brings to the table,” Molina described the 19-year-old 6-footer, who recorded an 18-point, 24-rebound outing against the Ateneo Blue Eaglets during Season 82.
“He’s a very good defender. His shot is developing; every year, it’s improved. He’s quite athletic and strong. He’s another Alec Stockton, but a better shooter already at this stage. He can really be another stopper, like Ron Dennison-type, but I think with better offensive skills.”
Stockton, a pesky defender and reliable playmaker, and Dennison, a solid defender who worked himself into becoming a trustworthy offensive weapon, are two familiar names for fans of the FEU Tamaraws.
“We’re very high on both,” said Molina, who also added: “Patrick is more ahead in terms of making the lineup because he’s more physically gifted for college.”
“With Jorick, we envision him to be in Team B for a year, maybe even two,” Molina admitted.
“Medyo kulang pa yung strength ni Jorick (Jorick needs to work on his strength), but he’s a very good shooter, he can finish well, and he’s very composed. We feel with strengthening, he’ll be a good point guard for us down the line, which he understands.”
Bautista will have to take a backseat to LJay Gonzales and Royce Alforque, both of whom are older and ahead in the depth chart, but will also serve as guiding rods for the young cager.
“When he joined the high school, both LJay and Royce were ahead. It’s going to be pretty much the same situation,” said Molina, highlighting the team’s development system.
“The parents also realized that he also needs more seasoning, but I think he’s going to be a good point guard.”
Molina, however, said there is the possibility Bautista can already make Team A with quick development.
The athletic director noted there is no confirmation yet on the commitment of another FEU high school standout, Penny Estacio, although the seniors program is open to offering him a scholarship.
The Tamaraws had an 8-6 record and advanced to the Final Four in UAAP Season 82. – Rappler.com