Ready to follow in the footsteps of fellow Filipino-Americans and former NCAA standouts Jordan Clarkson and Stephen Holt, both of whom have recently signed professional contracts to play in the NBA and the German League respectively, a new batch of young ballplayers with Filipino lineage are preparing for their hardwood debut in America’s premiere collegiate league a few months from now.
After a successful stint in the prep ranks, the Fil-Am point guard quartet of Trevor Dunbar, Ethan Alvano, Ernie Duncan and Aaron Calixte are moving on to the next phase by suiting up for different Division 1 teams with the hopes of making it to big leagues later on.
As they begin their collegiate careers, SLAM PH gives a short background on this year’s freshman batch of Fil-Am cagers in NCAA Division-1.
Trevor Dunbar, Washington State Cougars
Although standing a shade below six-feet at 5’10”, Trevor Dunbar stood the tallest among the competition in the San Francisco (CA) West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL).
Averaging 22 points, five assists and four boards per contest, the Fil-Am floor general led St. Ignatius High School to a Central Coast Section Division II title, and was named the 2014 WCAL’s Player of the Year as a senior.
Possessing fluid ball-handling skills and a keen eye for distributing the leather, Dunbar received offers from Loyola Marymount, Florida A&M and Cal Poly before deciding to sign with PAC-12 school Washington State.
Dunbar’s reason for choosing the Cougars was the track record of newly-named Washington State head coach Ernie Kent in developing guards under his watch. A former mentor of the University of Oregon Ducks, some of Kent’s proteges include the Denver Nuggets’ Aaron Brooks, Luke Ridnour of the Orlando Magic, and former Meralco Bolts reinforcement Chamberlain “Champ” Oguchi.
Per prep2prep.com: “[Coach Kent] has had a lot off success with small guards such as Aaron Brooks (currently with the Denver Nuggets),” Dunbar said. “That really sold me because as well as making me a better player, I know he appreciates my game.”
Among Washington State’s notable basketball alumni include former Cleveland guard Craig Ehlo, as well as current NBA players Aron Baynes of 2014 champions San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warrior and one-half of the Splash Brothers duo Klay Thompson.
Ethan Alvano, Eastern Michigan University
Coming from the hoops hotbed of Southern California, 6’1” Ethan Alvano has a well-rounded game that will give him an edge over the competition once the college season opens shop.
In his senior year at Corona HS, Alvano registered 23.2 markers, 5.8 dimes, 3.7 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 0.2 blocks in 26 games played for the Chris Maffucci-mentored squad.
Among Alvano’s achievements at the HS level include being named co-Most Valuable Player alongside fellow Fil-Am Sedrick Barefield at the Big 8 league tournament last March. Although Alvano and Barefield suited up for rival schools Corona HS and Corona Centennial High, both are teammates in the AAU outfit Compton Magic, which also has Cathedral HS junior and Batang Gilas mainstay Kobe Paras in its fold.
Playing for Eastern Michigan University, which produced the likes of long-time NBA point guard Earl Boykins and Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin, as well as former PBA import Fred Cofield of Barangay Ginebra, Alvano is looking to help the Eagles return to the NCAA Tournament. Eastern Michigan last made it to the round of 64 in 1998 with Boykins at the forefront.
Aaron Calixte, University of Maine
In last year’s American East Conference play, the University of Maine Black Bears were only able to accumulate a 4-12 record, leading to a 6-23 overall record in the 2013-14 NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball season.
Though he may not change the status of the program overnight, freshman Aaron Calixte is looking to contribute to the Black Bears backcourt this season. A 5’11” point guard out of Stoughton High School and Lee Academy, Calixte is ranked as the eighth point guard prospect in the whole of Maine and 104th overall among all floor generals in the class of 2014 by ESPN.
Described by the sports news network as “a powerful, playmaking style lead guard who boasts good quickness and athleticism along with a strong body. He goes right or left to get into the lane, can absorb contact on his way there, and finish through the bump.” Calixte will team up with sophomore guard Troy Reid-Knight and fellow rookie Kevin Little in doing the quarterback chores for the Maine five.
Before committing to the Black Bears, Calixte also received offers from Albany, New Hampshire, Quinnipac, Robert Morris and Siena. One successful alumnus of the Blackbears program is Rick Carlisle, who won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 1986 and guided the Dallas Mavericks to the franchise’s first NBA title in 2011.
Ernie Duncan, University of Vermont
Growing up in Indiana, Ernie Duncan was adept at playing the game like most of the young cagers living in the Hoosier State. Suiting up for Evansville Harrison High School, Duncan averaged 22.1 markers, 5.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds in his senior year, which helped him earn the 2013-14 Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (SIAC) Player of the Year award.
Adding a feather to his cap, the Fil-Am guard finished his HS career as the school’s all-time scoring leader, besting state legends and ex-pros Calbert Cheaney and Walter McCarty. Duncan also tallied the most games played by an Evansville player, as well as becoming the varsity program’s all-time leader in assists as well.
These stellar achievements prompted the likes of Florida Gulf Coast, Ball State and Toledo to offer scholarships to Duncan. Top programs such as Clemson, Boston College, West Virginia and Tennessee also courted the multi-faceted guard before he settled for the University of Vermont Catamounts, which lists NCAA champion coach Rollie Massimino and former PBA Best Import Marqus Blakely among its former players.
Aside from being an explosive scorer and passer, the 6’3” guard owns a relentless motor and a high basketball IQ. As mentioned by Sam Perkins of onebidwonders.com: “Duncan’s motor, compete level and Basketball IQ are off the charts. He’s a workout warrior and the kind of teammate who makes everyone around him better. And he is a truly special facilitator and passer. Running the offense, he always seems to get teammates the ball in a position to score and has an uncanny ability to see the entire court, know where his teammates are without looking, and pinpoint and pick-apart every hole in the defense before it has even set up.”
And Ernie won’t be the first and last member of the Duncan household to suit up for a NCAA Division 1 school. Younger brother Everett, a 6’6” wing and a HS teammate of Ernie for three seasons, already gave his verbal commitment to suit up for the Catamounts next year.
Photos c/o Michael Macor (The Chronicle), Frank Bellino (goodteamway.blogspot.com), George Rizer (The Boston Globe) and Erin McCracken (Courier and Press)