Without a doubt the PBA is about to receive an influx of talent like it has never seen before in the upcoming PBA Season 46 Rookie Draft. Especially since, as a result of the ongoing pandemic, the typical PBA D-League requirement has been scrapped for this year's edition.
In a regular year, Fil-foreign players with the ambition to play in the PBA have to play in at least seven games in two D-League conferences. With that requirement relaxed, there has been an influx of foreign based talent who have declared their availability.
Out of the 97 draft applicants 31 of them are Fil-foreigners, which eclipsed the previous 15-man record set in the 2015 edition.
Eighteen of the 31 Fil-foreign applicants have yet to complete the Bureau of Immigration certification and Department of Justice confirmation requirements, but PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial has extended the deadline to submit the mandatory requirements to March 5.
Apart from the Fil-foreigners declaring themselves available, there are also some prospects from non-UAAP and NCAA schools, the MPBL, and the 3x3 circuit that decided to try their luck as well.
With the knowledge that there could be some names in this list who could be ruled ineligible after the March 5 deadline, let's take a look at the top five prospects who honed their craft outside the bright lights of the UAAP and NCAA.
1. Joshua Munzon
Explosive guard Joshua Munzon is one of the names at the top of the loaded draft class. Standing at 6-foot-4, the fiery Munzon has the size of a PBA small forward but the scoring ability of some of the top bucket getters in the league.
While many fans are familiar with Munzon's exploits playing 3x3 basketball, the 25-year old has already dominated locally in the 5-on-5 scene. Back in the 2019 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup, Munzon averaged a double-double of 35.0 points and 10.2 rebounds and posted multiple 40-point outings for AMA Online Education.
Munzon also played regionally in the ABL, suiting up Saigon Heat and the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
On the court, PBA fans can expect a scoring guard that can get buckets inside and out and an athletic defender that feasts on the passing lanes.
My colleague Yo Sarmenta labelled him as a potential franchise changer, and looking at both Munzon's physical and basketball skillset it is easy to see why.
2. Jason Brickman
The guard position will be strengthened in the upcoming draft especially with guys like Jason Brickman coming into the league.
Brickman is a dominant floor general who racks up double-digit assists with regularity. In the pandemic stricken 2020 ABL season, Brickman notched six double-digit assist games in 16 tries and ended up leading the entire league in assists per game with 9.1.
That isn't a one-off.
The prospective PBA rookie has been dropping dimes at a high volume since his college days in the US NCAA and is one of only four players to record 1,000 assists in Division 1 history.
Despite his obvious playmaking strength, Brickman also has the ability to score himself. Though the 29-year old talent only averaged 8.9 points per game during the 2020 ABL season, he has shown he could explode in the scoring column with a 32-point outing that year.
Apart from his stint in the ABL, local fans would also recognize Brickman for his role in Mighty Sports Philippines' 2019 William Jones Cup triumph.
3. Michael 'Mikey' Williams
Another backcourt dynamo who could possibly debut in the PBA this year is Mikey Williams, who is known for getting buckets.
Williams finished his college career with season norms of 17.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists for Cal State Fullerton. The 6-foot-2 scorer featured in the then-named NBA D-League for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the Canton Charge.
After moving to Asia, Williams made himself known around the region after averaging 17.7 points per game in his lone season with the Saigon Heat of the ABL in 2018.
Williams also played a key role for Mighty Sports in the 2019 Williams Jones Cup and 2020 Dubai International Basketball Championship and recently featured for the GenSan Warriors in the MPBL.
In an interview with ESPN5's Richard Dy, Williams' former head coach at Mighty Sports Charles Tiu is convinced he could be a difference maker with all the tools to succeed at the PBA level.
4. Taylor Statham
PBA franchises covet players with a combination of size and skill, and it is because of those attributes that teams' decision makers will take a long hard look at Taylor Statham.
At 6-foot-6, Statham is a well-travelled hooper who has had stints in the NBA G-League, Canada, China, Thailand, and Indonesia. In his latest 5-on-5 stint with Pacific Caesar Surabaya in Indonesia, the IBL website lists Statham's averages at 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.
The Cal State Bernardino-product also made a name for himself in the 3x3 scene, where he is listed as the 13th ranked American player in the entire circuit.
Should a PBA team acquire Statham's services, they are going to get a modern forward who has shown the capability to drain the outside shot and has the physicality to battle with the league's top forward and center options today.
5. Jeremiah Gray
Twenty-four-year old Jeremiah Gray could be one of the more entertaining prospects in the upcoming draft.
Listed at 6-foot-6, Gray possesses a long frame and is blessed with exceptional athleticism to be a threat on both ends of the floor. PBA teams can look forward to seeing Gray utilizing his hops and burst of speed as an attacking wing with the ability to finish above the rim with regularity.
The athletic forward was also a teammate of both Brickman and Williams in the 2019 William Jones Cup and the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Championship winning squads of Mighty Sports Philippines.
Gray most recently impressed for Alab Pilipinas in the ABL in the COVID shortened season as well, posting averages of 8.4 points in 15 games played.
MORE DRAFT COVERAGE: All you need to know about the PBA Season 46 Rookie Draft