TOP Filipino basketball prospect Kai Sotto has begun his National Basketball Association (NBA) G League push as his team of elite prospects, collectively known as “Ignite,” got its training going this week.

Coached by champion NBA player and coach Brian Shaw, NBA G League Ignite began training in Walnut Creek, California, on Tuesday (Manila time) looking to develop young players in its fold through a program that would hopefully prepare them for the NBA Draft and provide them with professional life skills that they could use in and out of the court.

Among the members of Ignite is Ateneo High School and Gilas Youth standout Sotto, who went to the United States in the hopes of developing his game and fulfilling a dream of becoming an NBA player, the first homegrown talent to make it to The Association if ever.

The 7’2” Sotto, 18, is joined in the team by top high school prospects Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Daishen Nix, Isaiah Todd, and NBA Global Academy graduate Princepal Singh.

Apart from the mentorship and life skills they will be getting, Sotto and company will be paid to play as professionals.

They, too, have an option to finish their college education if they choose to do so after the program as the NBA G League has partnered with Arizona State in providing such a platform.

With his new journey, Sotto said he is very excited to get it going.

In coaching Sotto, Mr. Shaw said he sees potential in the Filipino player, but underscored that the latter needs to put in the effort if he is to succeed and fulfil his dreams.

“I’m excited to coach these two young players. I haven’t seen much of Kai Sotto but he is a big guy with a nice skill set. He has a nice touch and has a very good understanding of the game,” said Mr. Shaw in a recent online session with Filipino media.

He went on to liken Sotto to NBA All-Star Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

“Among the big guys in the NBA right now, [Sotto] has the ability to play like Nikola Jokic. He can shoot from the outside. I haven’t been around him yet, but from the films I have seen of him, he can shoot and facilitate like what Jokic does. He needs to get stronger but he is a versatile player,” Mr. Shaw said.

The NBA G League Ignite squad started its training with one-on-one skill development training with Mr. Shaw and his staff, which includes assistant coach Rasheed Abdul-Rahman, video coordinator Jerry Woods, and athletic trainer Pete Youngman. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo