Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Asians in US NCAA Basketball; Japeth Aguilar and Jeremy Lin

The US NCAA basketball season is just around the corner and I often wondered how many Asians are playing in the league. I did some research and it turns out there are many. Almost all ethnic grouping represented Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Cambodian. I don't mean half-breeds but FULL-BLOODIED members of their community. Asian basketball players (in US NCAA men's basketball tournament) aren't getting enough media attention so I decided to feature some of them:

Japeth Aguilar
College: Western Kentucky University
Weight: 210 lbs
Position: Forward (according to
Year: Senior

Japeth Aguilar played College ball in the Philippines for two years but dreamed of bigger things. His dream is to play in the NBA and one way he could do that is to get improve his basketball skills and raise his level of play. Only the United States could offer that.

Here's Bill Velasco - Philippine Star November 12, 2007 report:

When Japeth was playing for the Blue Eagles, his father, 6’5” former Ginebra center Peter, put together a highlight reel of his son’s slam dunks, blocked shots and offensive exploits. He sent the DVD to a Bradley alumnus, who circulated it. Bradley then contacted Japeth, and flew him to Chicago. However, the school had run out of athletic scholarships.

Undaunted, the fleet-footed Japeth joined a camp in Chicago, and drew the attention of many college scouts. Narrowing his choices down to four, Japeth eventually settled on Western Kentucky, because he liked the system they used. It was a big leap for the gangling player.

He attended an evaluation camp in Illinois and soon attracted NCAA schools such as Bradley, Loyola, South Dakota State, Niagara, and Middle Tennessee State according to Japeth chose Western Kentucky University under Darrin Horn. Japeth Aguilar is the first homegrown Filipino talent recruited and played in US NCAA division I basketball.

In his first two games for the Hilltoppers last year, Japeth Aguilar he had 8 points 8 rebounds 4 blocked shots 3 Assists and 2 steals. He got injured during practice after the Kentucky-Wesleyan game and unfortunately missed the rest of the season including WKU spectacular victory over Drake University.

“When he was injured, he lost his spot in the rotation. I don’t understand why Coach Darrin Horn didn’t put him back in the line-up.” Peter Aguilar told Bill Velasco of Japeth's job is to come off the bench and defend. It's just too bad about the injury.

Aguilar was used by Horn as a defensive specialist. WKU has a new coach and I'm hoping Aguilar could fit the new system and gets to play.

On Aguilar's injury: Bill Velasco March 31, 2008

This season, Aguilar had bulked up, improved his ballhandling and shooting, and worked his way to becoming the first player of the bench for the Toppers. But late last year, he started feeling pain in his right foot. Doctors discovered a stress fracture, and Aguilar was sidelined for two months.

The good news is that the Hilltoppers have asked Aguilar to stay another year.

“When they found out Japeth was injured, they appealed to him to use another year of his eligibility, so he’ll play until 2010,” the elder Aguilar confirmed.

Man, I hope this time...things would be better.

Jeremy Lin
School: Harvard University
Height: 6-2
Weight: 180 lbs
Position: Guard
Year: Junior

  • Named in All Ivy League Second Team last season (the only one from Harvard)Started in all 30 games for Harvard
  • One of the statistical leaders in points, assists, shooting percentage, and leads the Ivy League in steals.
  • Jeremy Lin averaged 12.6 points and 3.6 assist per game last year for the HARVARD Crimson.
Talk about student-athlete! Man, we are talking about Harvard University here - the No.1 University in the World.

I couldn't say much about Jeremy Lin since the Ivy League games don't reach our country. I think PAC 10 and ACC games are usually covered - since the best basketball programs in College are usually found in those conferences.

Not bad for a race stereotyped as non-athletic, I expect more Asians to play in US NCAA basketball tournament. China is anxious to close the talent gap of its players from those abroad and one cost-effective way of doing it is to send its talented players to the US where they would get top-notch training and opposition and raise their level of play.

I hope more Filipino players follow Japeth Aguilar's path and try to play in US NCAA like the Chinese. Japeth Aguilar bulked up and he looks intimidating. In fact, Team Pilipinas under Coach Yeng Guiao has finally noticed him. He should get an invite for the national team tryouts.

This is not the end yet - I will feature more.


Three days ago, Jeremy Lin powered Harvard Crimson to an 82 - 70 victory over no.17 Boston College. He had 27 points, 8 assists, 6 steals, 2 blocked shots and 3 rebounds to lead Harvard to its first victory ever over a ranked opponent. Crimson is now 8-6 definitely a much better record than their 8- 22 win-loss tally last season.


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