A Hilltopper teammate flies straight into Japeth Aguilar during one of the school’s scrimmages but the 6-9 Filipino simply doesn’t budge, maintains his ground and assumes the full impact of the 200+ pound body coming into him. A year ago, the same scenario would have played out differently. He was weak, couldn’t keep pace with his highly physical teammates, and couldn’t make plays without visiting the floor. He has now gained an additional 10 pounds of strength and looks to have fully adjusted to basketball life in the US. He will play college ball for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this fall (the Hilltoppers is a division I team in the US NCAA competing in the Sunbelt conference that has produced the likes of ex-NBA players Chris Marcus, Johnny Givens, Tellis Frank and Chris Robinson).
Japeth sat out last year due to transfer rules. He has two years of varsity eligibility and hopes to make an impact to be able to make an impression on NBA scouts.
Not used to the physical brand of play in the US, Japeth locked himself up in the weight room and made earnest goals to improve on his strength. He’s still a few pounds away from his target of 220 lbs. but he has gained considerable strength which will be necessary when he faces the conference’s top big men.
Japeth figures to be a solid part of the Hilltopper’s rotation this season. The team’s inside game continues to be big hole, and Japeth hopes he can fill the void. One thing Japeth can bring to the table is an imposing post presence. In his last year with the Blue Eagles, Japeth led the field with 3.2 blocks a game. Hilltoppers’ head coach Darrin Horn will no doubt, find some good use for Aguilar on the rotation.
â€œHeâ€™s got things that are hard to teach â€“ height and length and terrific athleticism,â€ Horn said. â€œHeâ€™s a terrific shot blocker and rebounds well.â€
â€œHeâ€™s a guy thatâ€™s got good skill level â€“ can pass and catch, shoots the ball well, puts the ball on the floor really well for a player his size. Heâ€™s coming along nicely.â€
For Japeth, the one-year hiatus from active play has been a long wait. The intense preparations he made in the offseason will make him a ready body when coach Horn calls out his name for the Hilltoppers this fall. This is the beginning of a long career in basketball for Japeth. When he wears his jersey for WKU, he will make our country proud.
Go, Japeth! Show them what you got!