MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Francis "Lebron" Lopez has committed to play collegiate basketball for the University of the Philippines.
A source told ABS-CBN Sports that Lopez is moving to join the Fighting Maroons, contrary to expectations that he will join coach Tab Baldwin's Ateneo Blue Eagles squad. A separate source confirmed Lopez's move to ABS-CBN News.
Lopez played high school basketball for Ateneo, making the UAAP juniors Mythical Team in Season 82 where he averaged 16.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game.
He signed with Overtime Elite -- a professional basketball league in the United States -- in July 2021. The league, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is geared for high school prospects and aims to provide them a path towards pro basketball.
However, Lopez never played a game for OTE. He would instead spend the next two years as a player for Gilas Pilipinas, seeing action in six FIBA games for the national team as well as in the Southeast Asian Games.
Lopez averaged 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in six appearances for Gilas. In the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, he went home with a silver medal.
UP is expected to confirm Lopez's commitment in the coming days. The university will have to hurdle questions about the 19-year-old forward's eligibility, as Lopez signed with a professional league before opting to play in the UAAP.
If he is cleared by the league, Lopez will be a crucial addition to a UP team that lost Zavier Lucero to graduation and Carl Tamayo to the B.League at the end of Season 85.