By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
MUCH has been said about what the NBA G League could do for Filipino prospect Kai Sotto and his quest to make it to the National Basketball Association. But the organization shared it is happy and excited in return to have the young player on board, seeing how he could further enhance the profile of the league, particularly in attracting more international talent.
Last week, just as he turned 18 years old, Sotto announced that he was joining the NBA minor league organization and becoming the first international player to be part of the G League’s select squad.
The former Ateneo high school stalwart joined top young American talents Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix, among others, in the team, which the league will help develop as the players gird for a possible career in The Association.
Seven-foot-two Sotto said he is looking forward to the opportunity to further grow as a player in the G League, honing his basketball skills, building up his body and gaining confidence with the end view of eventually landing in the NBA, which is a dream for him and his family.
On the part of the G League, to have Sotto commit to it is a welcome development and very significant for the organization as it continues with its mission of developing NBA-caliber talent not only from the United States but also outside of it.
“We want to see an NBA-level talent who is willing to be pushed, developed and challenged. There are a lot of talented players around the world, but not all of them would fit in this program because some may not be ready for the commitment of preparing for the NBA,” said Shareef Abdur-Rahim, former NBA All-Star and now G League president, in a video conference call with Filipino media on Thursday.
“We always have a plan to have our program to improve international players. We are excited to welcome Kai knowing how big basketball is in the Philippines. We hope Kai is an inspiration to younger Filipino players that aspire to play in the NBA and aspire to be in the G League,” he added.
Mr. Abdur-Rahim, who spent 12 years in the NBA, went on to say that he is high on the development of Sotto, recognizing the kind of skills set he has at this point and his willingness to learn.
“We think Kai in some ways can a little be under the radar and he is just new to the United States and the popular media of evaluating players. Folks have not seen him a lot, and if you have seen him, then you recognize that he has made tremendous progress,” Mr. Abdur-Rahim said.
In the G League, members of the select squad will be provided with NBA-level coaching and be trained and looked after accordingly.
Sotto has been in the United States for some time now and trained at The Skills Factory in Atlanta, Georgia.
He was previously reported to be considering playing collegiate ball there, getting offers from the University of Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech, among others, until he broke the news that he was joining the G League instead.