Rhayyan Amsali starts anew, leaves the NU Bullpups

In a surprising turn of events, Rhayyan Amsali has decided to leave the NU Bullpups, as confirmed last Saturday, May 5, 2018.

This move surprised the entire High School basketball commnunity. Rhayyan was just coming off a runner-up finish with an NU Bullpups team that was primed to bounce back and contend this upcoming Season 81. Playing time has also never been an issue for him, as Rhayyan’s long been the primary power forward of the Bullpups ever since he came into the league during Season 78. So why decide to leave NU?

“I left NU simply because it was God’s plan for me,” explained Rhayyan. “I think I need to train harder. Gusto ko rin po na pagdating ko ng college, I have prepared well for me to become a dominant player.”

It was never a matter of Rhayyan having any particular issues with the NU Bullpups program. After all, NU was the very first team that welcomed Rhayyan when he made the move from Zamboanga all the way to Manila, helping the young forward grow and learn over the years.

“In my five years of playing with the Bullpups, wala po akong masasabi sa mga coaches and staff,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from them, and sila po yung isa sa mga reasons kung bakit nandito ako ngayon.”

Rhayyan’s play on the court today speaks to how much he has grown ever since he came into the Metro as a talented forward with a ton of potential. He’s always been a versatile forward who’s more than capable of creating plays for his teammates and getting points across the board. Even with Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente during his Season 78 run, Rhayyan was already a double-double threat teams had to watch out for.

But his growth went beyond the stat sheet. It’s with the little things he does inside the basketball court which make all the difference. He’s a lot quicker and stronger now, and his overall mentality on the court has improved. Back then, he seemed a little overeager, someone who would flex after made shots during preseason games with the Bullpups, but would disappear when the pressure cooker was on.

It’s a lot different now, as Rhayyan has emerged as a consistent, reliable option in the clutch. He’s no longer fazed by the moment, and is one of the most composed members of his team despite being just 17 years old. His passing is a lot better now, while possessing a tighter handle. Most importantly, he’s emerged as a capable defender, someone who attacks passing lanes to oblivion and battles for offensive rebounds as if his life depended on it.

All of that wouldn’t have happened without the guidance of Coach Jeff Napa during his first two years, and Coach Goldwin Monteverde during his third year. But Rhayyan’s decided to start anew and continue his journey on a different path from where he was last year.

Right now, Rhayyan remains undecided where he will take his talents to in the High School or collegiate level. According to Rhayyan, there are seven schools from the UAAP and the NCAA that are interested in him. Going in whichever league will matter a lot, because it will spell the difference whether he can still play in High School, or will wait it out until his graduation to go to College.

If he goes to the UAAP, he can no longer play in the Juniors Division because of the eligibility rules intact in the league. Transferring to another school will mean residency, and come Season 82, he will no longer be eligible because he would already had run out of years to play in High School. This upcoming Season 81 is already his fourth year in the league, and unless he decides to go back to the Bullpups, he can no longer play for another championship in the UAAP.

To put it simply, taking his talents to a UAAP school will mean having to wait out one year before playing in College, just like what his former teammate John Lloyd Clemente did with the NU Bulldogs (which was a different circumstance, however).

Going to an NCAA school is a lot different, however. The general rule of eligibility in the NCAA is, as long as you’re 19 or below in the incoming season, you are still deemed eligible by the league. This was why the likes of Carlo Abadeza and Sam Abu Hijleh were able to play for quite the long period in the league.

Rhayyan was born December 28, 2000, which means he would only be 17 years old if he decides to take his talents to an NCAA school today. That means Rhayyan can already play as early as this year in whatever NCAA school he chooses, and he’d get two years of development under that program.

It would be logical then for Rhayyan to make the move to an NCAA school, considering that he’d be getting an extra year of play in the Juniors Division before making the jump to the Seniors Division. At the same time, that means he can take his time deciding which college he will go to since he will be getting an extra year to think about his decision.

These are all conditions we can look at from the outside looking in, but at the end of the day, it’s Rhayyan’s family that knows best when it comes to his development. The priority for Rhayyan after all, is to get better as an individual.

That’s been the mandate for Rhayyan as he goes on his quest for a new school to play for — going to the program that will make him better as a basketball player. “I’m not really picky with it,” mentioned Rhayyan regarding how his decision making process will be. “But I think it will be better if the training in that school is a lot more advanced and progressed.”

Right now, Rhayyan plays the four, at times masquerading as a three in bully ball line-ups. But for Rhayyan to continue his dominance in the collegiate level, he has to commit to playing the wing position given his size. He himself knows this fact, as he desires to play that exact position.

“Gusto ko pong maglaro ng tres sa bagong school ko,” shared Rhayyan. “I need to work on my skills first for me to level up.” Rhayyan will remind you a little bit of Ben Simmons at times, a capable, strong, lefty ball-handler who can create, but lacks the jumper to keep defenses honest. In the High School level, he can survive under such circumstances. But in the collegiate level, where defenses are tougher and opponents are a lot bigger, going strong to the hole with his wide frame won’t cut. Adding different dimensions to his already polished game will only make things better for the highly-touted prospect.

As Rhayyan undergoes his decision making process, he will set his eyes first on a possible Batang Gilas stint for the FIBA Asia U18 tournament to be held this upcoming August.

As he enters this new chapter of his life, he will surely be asked various question regarding his impending decision. Why leave NU? Where are you going to next?

But Rhayyan doesn’t treat stuff like these as baggage. He treats these as lessons he can bring not just to the new school he’ll be committing to, but also to Batang Gilas. “Yung mag go hard work lagi, focus sa practice, and discipline. Always trust the process and have faith,” he shared regarding what he hopes to bring as he moves forward. There are plenty of questions regarding his future, but no doubt, Rhayyan is a talented forward who has the desire to become even more than what he is today.

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