Philippines star Jaja Santiago, who spurned feverish recruiting from UCLA to remain home and play in the the Philippines’ collegiate system the UAAP, has finally gone pro and left home to play professionally in Japan.
The 6’5″ opposite is confirmed to have left on Wednesday for Japan, though she hasn’t officially signed with a club yet. She’ll be in Japan for just a few days to try-out for teams and, if all goes according to plan, signing a contract.
Her sister told local media that “a lot of clubs are interested to recruit her,” adding that “they want to see her first before offering her a contract.”
The 22-year old is the tallest player on the Philippines national team roster. She played collegiately in the Philippines with National University (she began playing for the team as a guest player at just 14) and was named the MVP of the 2016 Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix.
She led the Philippines in scoring at last year’s Southeast Asian Games where they finished 4th out of 6 teams (behind Thailand, Indonesia, and Vientnam). She also played on the PSL all-star team at the 2016 FIVB Club World Championships. In that tournament, she scored 25 points in 4 matches, including a team-best 11 against Pomi Casalmaggiore: at the time the best team in Italy. Even at just 20-years old, she hit 56% in that match.