MERALCO forward Cliff Hodge was drafted in the same class with Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen in the 2012 PBA Draft.
All of them were picked in the first round and showed promise with their respective teams.
Nearly a decade after, only Hodge remains in the PBA.
Ellis, the high-leaping forward selected by the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings as the sixth overall pick, played his first five seasons with the league's most popular team. A three-time All-Star and a former slam dunk champion, he was traded to Blackwater for Art dela Cruz during the 2017 season.
"He had so much potential," Hodge said, referring to his former long-time teammate with the national team and NLEX in the PBA D-League.
"But he never got over the hump to fulfill his potential. This guy can shoot, he's super athletic, but he wasn't able to turn the corner where he can be a go-to-guy for Ginebra. So, when he got traded, he got sick and after that, I really didn't get a chance to keep in touch with him ever since."
Hodge and Ellis played together for the gold-medal winning Philippine men's basketball team in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta coached by Norman Black. They were also teammates for the NLEX Road Warriors team that dominated the PBA D-League before they turned pros.
Jensen was also selected by Barangay Ginebra in the first round [8th overall] in the 2012 PBA Draft, and just like Ellis the 6-foot-4 forward showed a lot of potential.
But not for long.
He was traded to the Barako Bulls for Josh Urbiztondo late in the season, was shipped to GlobalPort, and two seasons later, would find himself ending up with the Star Hotshots as part of the trade which involved Jonathan Uyloan for center Yousef Taha.
Jensen didn't play a single game for the Hotshots. He returned home in the US and informed Star management that he had personal matters to attend to.
He resumed his playing career, but opted to play in the Asean Basketball League for CSL Knights Indonesia, replacing another Filipino player Rudy Lingganay as an ASEAN heritage import.
"Keith was one of the great ones in my draft class also. I think he wants to come back," Hodge said.
"I don't know who holds his rights. He left kinda suddenly also like Chris. If these guys would come back, I'm sure they can still help any PBA team." (RJ)