MANILA, Philippines – Cal State Northridge coach Reggie Theus waited two years for Kobe Paras to arrive at their campus, and he will have to wait another year before the Filipino standout suits up for the Matadors.
Yet Theus is confident that the wait will be worth it, as he anticipates the day that Paras will draw fans into CSUN's "Matadome" with his athleticism and energetic play.
"This is the type of recruit, this is the type of individual that we're always seeking out, and I think he is really putting us on the right track," Theus said of Paras on Wednesday, during the player's introductory press conference.
"Kobe has endless potential, and his ceiling is so high," the coach added. "We've watched him get numbers in many FIBA events, and he even won an international dunk contest, so he's extremely exciting. His athleticism is off the charts."
Theus recruited Paras in high school, when the Filipino was suiting up for Cathedral in Los Angeles. However, Paras first opted to commit to UCLA, and when that did not work out, to Creighton. He received little playing time for the Bluejays, however, and eventually decided to transfer.
For Theus, the former Sacramento Kings coach, Paras' experience in the past couple of years have been proof that the young player is mature beyond his years.
"One of the things that I think is most important, and stands out to me is he went through some adversity," Theus noted. "He went through some things that weren't real good for him last year, but kept his composure."
"In the midst of this adversity, he had great character, he became a great teammate, and that is really how you measure a man in many ways," he said.
"I tell my players all the time that character wins, and this is something that Kobe has done going back to his playing days at Middlebrooks Academy and through a couple of years in college."
Nevertheless, Theus did not offer Paras a scholarship just for his high character. The coach believes that Paras will be an integral part of the CSUN team once he is able to suit up, even though the 19-year-old Filipino has only played a grand total of 70 minutes of college basketball for Creighton.
Indeed, Theus believes that as a transferee, Paras will be more than eager to work hard and prove that he can compete at the collegiate level.
"He has great character, and he's someone that's very hungry," Theus said. "Sometimes when you get transfers, when they have the right type of character, they come in hungry. And I got that sense when talking to Kobe."
"He's very hungry to prove what he can be as a college basketball player," he added. "I think his ceiling is extremely high."
There are things that Paras needs to work on, of course, and Theus in particular is hopeful that his new prized recruit can become a more consistent shooter. But even now, Paras' ability to use his athleticism to get to the basket already makes him a perfect fit for the Matadors.
"His style of plays fits the way I like to play anyway, because we like to take it to the rim, we want to get to the free throw line," said Theus. "So his athleticism and the way he plays fits exactly what we like to do."
Right now, Paras projects to be an "energy guy," but Theus expect him to improve as his collegiate career progresses.
"He's got a great IQ, and [he's] somebody that wants to be better. He came here to CSUN because he felt that I can help him get better, and that was a tribute to his understanding of what I can do. I kind of played his position. He wants the knowledge, and that's what I really see," he explained.
Theus – and Paras – will have to wait for one more year before the Filipino youngster can finally suit up for CSUN as Paras needs to sit out to upcoming NCAA season to comply with their transfer rules. As early as now, however, Theus is already banking on Paras to be one of the biggest draws for the team.
"I do know that he is an exciting player," Theus said. "I know we have an extra 800 seats up top, and he might help put some people in those seats."
In the meantime, Paras will redshirt the upcoming season, though Theus stresses that he can still participate in team activities.
"He'll be able to practice, he'll be able to do anything that we do on campus, and he'll be a part of our team in every day, except he won't be able to travel with us. Well, he can travel if he drives his own car, because if he gets there on his own, he can come sit on the bench," he said.
"But outside of that, he's gonna be able to do everything that we do as a team, he just won't be able to play in any games."
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