After the PBA’s only game of the 2020 season so far last March 8, Magnolia guard P.J. Simon imparted some words of wisdom that undrafted players of recent years could lean on in an uphill journey into the league.
“They shouldn’t lose hope because that’s what happened to me. There were times that I wanted to give up, but I kept going,” he said in Filipino. “Hopefully to the undrafted players, they don’t lose hope. They can’t give up because if I could do it, for sure they could do it too.”
Simon was by no means an undrafted player. The eight-time PBA champion was overlooked when he went unsigned after being picked 43rd overall by Sta. Lucia in the 2001 draft, but being drafted meant that he was still on the radar more than other players who couldn’t draw the same opportunity.
The guard’s words, however, ring truer than anything that has ever been said about undrafted players, and many after him may have certainly taken his career arc as one of their inspirations moving forward. Here are some of the most notable ones.
If we’re counting titles, Gaco probably takes the cake. The 6-foot-4 big man from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Del La Salle University had a largely unremarkable career after going undrafted in the 2005 draft, but he still managed to stick around for six years in the PBA while taking home five titles, including one Grand Slam, with the Purefoods franchise. He achieved cult status among Purefoods fans, who called themselves “Gaco-natics”.