SLAM Rising Stars: Arvin Tolentino

SLAM Rising Stars: Arvin Tolentino from Gia Jamias on Vimeo.

Name: Arvin Tolentino

Age: 18

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 210 lbs

High School: San Beda

Committed to: Ateneo De Manila University

Awards won: RP U16 & U18, FIBA Asia 3×3 U18 Gold Medalist, 5-Peat NCAA Champ, NCAA S88 Mythical 5, NCAA S89 Finals MVP

Pre-game ritual: Wala. Dasal lang.

Song-on-repeat: Wala naman. Pero basically yung mainstream. Medyo sumisikat ngayon yung mga electro.

In-game kicks: “Kung ano available basta makalaro gagamitin ko.”

Post-game kicks: Vans. “Hindi ako mahilig sa Jordan eh.”

Needs to improve on: Speed. Arvin plans to improve on his speed to be able to play the 2 or 3 in college. He plans to use that to be able to get his jay off at the college level.

That’s for him. For most analysts, the former Red Cub needs to improve on his motor and defense. There’s a buzz going around that he’s an atrocious defender. That’s 100% true. He might be the worst defender in this class. Coaches say, “Pansinin mo kung gaano kadali para sa bantay ni Arvin mag-score.” I’ve seen games were he just watches the ball and mails out on D.

To that, he says, “Sobrang dali kasi ng basketball sa San Beda eh. Kaya hindi kami masyado nag-concentrate sa depensa.

Talking about his motor, he’s the yang to Calvin Abueva’s yin. There’s just something too slow and chill about him. The bad thing is that he’s slow at everything; it’s intrinsic. Slow is how he approaches his daily life. He walks and speaks slow.

Seniors ready: Let’s see. Tolentino already has the size to be a legit center in college. He has the agility of a small forward and the ball handling skills of a guard. Trust me, for a guy this big, he crosses people up pretty good. Plus his jumper isn’t too bad either. It’s more than respectable. He probably is the most intriguing SLAM Rising Star with the biggest upside because we rarely see a guy this big and skilled.

Offensively, I think he’ll manage to play in PBA games. I just only need to tell you one thing to believe that. Arvin was a part of the U18 National Team that was invited to adidas Nations last August in L.A. The best high school prospects in the world were there and college and pro scouts were there to check the talent out. Current NBA coaches and players were at the camp to train the punks. Heck, Joel Embiid, the Kansas University center who’s a bet to go number overall in the 2014 NBA Draft was there too!

In a game between Team Asia (Philippines) and a team composed of the best high school seniors in the U.S., there was one play Tolentino made that made me say, “Okay, this guy will translate well in the pros.” Arvin was isolated at the top of the key. He broke his man down with a deceptively quick hesitation move. When he got by the small forward that was guarding him (I believe that was Justise Winslow, member of the USA U19 team that won the Gold last year), Tolentino had Jahlil Okafor (projected number 1 pick of the 2016 NBA Draft) waiting for him under the rim. Okafor was going to swat his shot into the stands right? No. Arvin executed a tough lay-up that bounced near the top of the glass and into the hoop. I was there. I saw the play as it unfolded.

So, the takeaway? Arvin can finish over legit NBA prospects.

Projection: If Arvin improves his defense, he’ll be pro ready by his sophomore year in Ateneo.