Kobe Paras. File Photo.
MANILA – High-flying Filipino teenager Kobe Paras first became famous for his ability to dunk, but according to his coach at the Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, he has blossomed into a more complete basketball player now.
"Most people know him for his dunking," Paras' coach William Middlebrooks told Eric Sondheimer of the LA Times. "But he can shoot the three, (he) dribbles, passes."
"So he's pretty highly skilled," he said.
Paras first drew attention when he sailed past LeBron James for a slam dunk during the NBA superstar's visit to Manila last year. He then won the Slam Dunk contest of the FIBA 3x3 Under-18 tournament by flying over a teammate seated on a motorcycle.
Since then, the former La Salle Greenhills standout has moved to Los Angeles, where he now plays for the Cathedral High School and recently committed to play collegiate basketball to UCLA.
"He's adapting to the style of play in America," Middlebrooks said of Paras. "It's different, he said, from where he came from."
In an interview with ABS-CBN North America, Middlebrooks said Paras has improved considerably since he got to Los Angeles.
"Once we got to spring play, summer play, and now the fall, he's consistently gotten better. He's figured out the speed of the game, displayed athleticism, how to get his shot off, and how to do certain moves that he likes to do," he said.
Paras mostly played as a big man when he was in La Salle Greenhills, but is playing as a guard for Cathedral. Middlebrooks said they are improving his game to fit that.
"What we've tried to do is to expand his game, shooting, having a good mid-range game, shooting threes, using the pump-fake, drawing fouls, and getting to the free throw line," said Middlebrooks.
"He's a good free throw shooter. So we're expanding on his defense and passing, just trying to make him a more complete player," he added.