SUNDAY, August 19, is D-Day for the 57 prospective rookies in the PBA annual draft to be held at the Robinsons Midtown Mall in Manila.
This is the 28th edition of the PBA draft which was first held in 1985, 10 years after the league was born, with Shell naming Sonny Cabatu as the first-ever No. 1 overall pick.
Since 1985, 20 of the previous 27 No. 1 picks were all big men. The only seven (7) exceptions were JVee Casio (2010), Mike Cortez (2003), Willie Miller (2001), Paolo Mendoza (2000), Vergel Meneses (1992), Apet Jao (1990) and Allan Caidic (1988). Noli Locsin, the 1994 top overall pick, stood probably just 6-2 or 6-3 but was considered a big man during his time while 2008 No. 1 selection Gabe Norwood now plays mostly as a guard even at 6-4.
If Petron Blaze names 6-10 June Mar Fajardo as this year’s top draft pick, he will be the tallest No. 1 pick since 6-10 1/2 Andy Seigle of Mobiline in 1997.
Only nine of the 27 previous No. 1 picks went on to win Rookie of the Year honors at season’s end – Norwood (2008), Kelly Williams (2006), Rich Alvarez (2004), Danny Ildefonso (1998), Andy Seigle (1997), Marlou Aquino (1996), Jun Limpot (1993), Benjie Paras (1989) and Caidic (1987), with Paras becoming the only rookie in league history to win Most Valuable Player honors at the same time.
At 5-9 3/4, Casio was the shortest ever No. 1 pick when Powerade selected him last year.
This year’s 57 is the most number of prospective rookies since the 59 two years ago when Nonoy Baclao and Rabeh Al-Hussaini were selected Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, by Air21.
This is the first time Petron Blaze is picking first in the draft, a pick which it acquired from Air21 in a previous trade. The Boosters’ previous highest pick in the draft was second overall which happened twice — in 2007 (when it selected Sam Eman, behind Welcoat’s Devance) and in 1998 (when it selected Noy Castillo then traded him for No. 1 pick Ildefonso of Shell).
In the draft’s history, Air21 and defunct Sta. Lucia have the most number of No. 1 picks with four each. The Express have Baclao (2010), Japeth Aguilar (2009), Jay Washington (2005) and Yancy de Ocampo (2002) while the Realtors had Williams (2006), Mendoza (2000), Dennis Espino (1995) and Limpot (1993).
Air21 always went on to trade all its four previous No. 1 picks and even its two previous No. 2 overall selections — Al-Hussaini (2010) and Arwind Santos (2006).
The Express and Talk ‘N Text are the only two teams without a first-round selection in this year’s draft.
For the second straight year, the draft will have no limit as far as the number of rounds for the teams to make selections. From 2005 up to 2010, the draft was limited to just two rounds.