Filipino amateur basketball star Kobe Paras has decided to go pro.
The decision comes a few days after former NBA player and California State University, Northridge (CSUN) coach Reggie Theus, along with athletic director Brandon Martin, were fired. The two were engaged in an altercation after Theus, who was the Matadors' head coach for the past five seasons with a 53-105 overall record, was informed he was being relieved of his duties.
According to a press release released by Middlebrooks Academy, the firing of Theus and Martin "has set the stage for Kobe Paras to test the waters and as of today, has decided to enter the professional world of basketball."
Kobe's dad, PBA legend Benjie Paras, said he supports his son's decision.
"My son is taking one of the hardest steps in his journey to date and embracing full manhood. Kobe was brave enough to leave home and forge his way in the United States when he attended Cathedral High School & Middlebrooks Academy. He has fought through continuous adversity at the collegiate level and now he is continuing to challenge himself with this decision," said the older Paras, who is the lone Rookie MVP of the Philippine Basketball Association.
"As it will not be easy, he has the full support of his family to embark upon this journey and see where it leads him. Kobe is mature enough to handle this decision and knows his country is behind him," he added.
The 20-year-old Paras is set to begin intense training to improve his game before showcasing his skills to professional teams and scouts. The statement also said he will also build a "professional brand development team" to pursue endorsement opportunities.
Paras' former coach, William Middlebrooks, said "the decision to go pro is the easier part" and that "the real work starts now."
"He knows it and now has to set his mind in the direction where it's go hard or go home. He has #teammiddlebrooks on his side and we will do everything within our reach to support him," Middlebrooks said.
If Paras changes his mind, however, CSUN will be more than willing to take him back, the statement read.
"Kobe is in great academic as well as behavioral standing with CSUN and will be welcomed back if he decides not to sign with an agent and play collegiate basketball for the 2018-19 season."
Paras previously suited up for Gilas Pilipinas in a few international tournaments and has been a staple for the Philippine team in FIBA 3x3 competitions.