It looks like Los Angeles will soon have a new Kobe to cheer for. Kobe Paras, a 17-year-old basketball prodigy from the Philippines, first gained major attention for his athletic skills when he participated in a 2013 Nike exhibition in Manilla. Despite the presence of LeBron James, the 6’6″ teen was able to slam the ball into the hoop. The move was caught on video soon went viral. It wasn’t long before Paras was known as “the kid who dunked on LeBron.”
But now it seems the young athlete is going for even bigger nicknames. Paras, who played for La Salle Greenhills before pursuing a career in the United States, currently attends LA Cathedral. Paras has apparently already received scholarship offers from UC Irvine, Fresno State, Texas Arlington, Arizona State, Portland State, and Boston College, but it wasn’t until last week that he received an offer he couldn’t turn down.
UCLA coach Steve Alford visited a Cathedral game to watch Paras practice and sure enough, by the end of the game Alford offered him a UCLA scholarship. It didn’t take long for Paras to commit.
“I have made my decision… I’m really happy to say that I have committed to UCLA!” Paras posted on his offcial Twitter account on Saturday. In 24 hours, he picked up 1,000 more Twitter followers. In fact, the young athlete now has over 50K Twitter followers.
In a video posted on the Middlebrooks Basketball Facebook account, Paras was asked to describe how it felt to have committed to the Bruins. “It’s an unbelievable feeling, especially for a kid coming from the Philippines, a place that no one even knows about that much,” he said. “I’ve just been here for a couple of months… I can’t explain that much. It’s just a great feeling, just amazing. I’m so excited.” Of course he ends with an enthusiastic yell.
Many are claiming that Paras gained his talent from his father Benjie. Los Angeles Times reports, “In 1989 [Benjie] became the only player in the history of the country’s professional basketball league to be the rookie of the year and the MVP in the same season.”