Photo Courtesy of Spin.ph
When fans think of locations around the world that are hotbeds for developing basketball talent, Las Pinas, Phillipines doesn’t exactly come to mind. While there have been players of Filipino descent who have made it to the NBA like Raymond Townsend and Jordan Clarkson, there hasn’t been a player who has spent his formative years in the country on the road to playing basketball at the highest level.
7’3” prospect Kai Sotto is hoping to break that mold. The 20 year-old declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, and will be eligible for selection by any of the league’s 30 teams later this month. He spent last season playing in Australia for the Adelaide 36ers, averaging 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Those numbers might not jump off of the page, but Sotto finished his NBL season strong. He scored 21 points against the Brisbane Bullets, and recorded four blocks against the New Zealand Breakers in the final game of the year.
While many mock drafts do not predict Sotto will be selected during the NBA Draft, there is no question that teams are intrigued by the Filipino center’s potential. It has been reported that as many as 12 NBA franchises will bring Sotto into their facility for a workout before the draft. Even if he ends up going undrafted, he will have had the opportunity to showcase his skills in front of a plethora of important decision makers. It could also lead to him signing a contract as an undrafted free agent, which is a starting point for many solid NBA players.
Over and above the potential Sotto has on the floor, he brings a refreshing attitude that teammates and coaches like to be around.
“He’s easy to get along with, loves joking, and doesn’t back away from challenges. He’s coachable and receptive to feedback from coaches and teammates,” said Adelaide scouting director Theodore Chan. Via Heavy.com
Growing up, Sotto became a fan of the NBA game by rooting for the San Antonio Spurs. It might not be surprising to hear that as a big man himself, the Filipino prospect had a lot of admiration for Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, who won five titles in San Antonio. Not only did Sotto look up to the way Duncan affected the game on both sides of the floor; he loved the way he carried himself on the court. Many players love to get involved with talking down to their opponents, but Duncan was always calm, cool and collected.
He also had a role model to look up to a little bit closer to home, which fostered his love of the game.
“Watching my dad growing up playing professional basketball made me love it more,” he recalled. “I can’t finish a day without playing basketball or watching basketball. Via Overtime
Keeping track of Sotto’s progress as he pursues his dream will be fascinating to watch. The level of passion he brings to the game will fuel his journey towards making basketball history.