Kai Sotto will play in the NBA G League next season, becoming the first international prospect to join five-star recruits Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix. It’s all the more likely that his splash sparks a new wave of things to come.
“We’ve always had a plan with our program to recruit international players. We welcome Kai and know how big basketball is in the Philippines, so we hope he is an inspiration to the younger Filipinos who aspire to be in the NBA and the G League. We think this is just the start of attracting more international players,” President Shareef Abdur-Rahim said. “We have the connections because of our NBA Academy and Basketball Without Borders. As we identify the right talent, we want them to be a part of what we’re doing. We think Kai is a great first international player and that he’s going to inspire other Filipino players to play in the NBA and the G League.”
At 7’2″ and 215 pounds, there’s already high praise for the big man. With a ceiling so high, fans would be smart to make sure they’re along for the ride.
“Kai is hopefully on his way to being the first Filipino-born player to be drafted into the NBA. That’s a big deal and this is part of his journey,” Abdur-Rahim added. “I’m aware of how big the sport is, so it’s exciting for us from a G League standpoint that folks in the Philippines will follow us, Kai, and Jalen Green, who has Filipino connections.”
As Sotto joins the fray and the Select Team begins to really take shape toward next season, Abdur-Rahim further shed light on the types of athletes the minor league continues to seek out as they construct this squad.
“We want to see NBA level talent, a player that we are projecting and expect will go forth in the NBA. Someone with work ethic, high character, and the desire to push and be challenged. There are a lot of talented players around the world. Not all of them would fit in this program because they may not be ready for the commitment of preparing for the NBA. It’s a combination of talent and being on a path to the NBA. A lot of players have the dream of playing in the NBA, but may not at this stage be on the cusp,” he explained. “We want to make sure we we identify the right players and that they have the right attitude and the right approach. I think Kai fits all of those areas. He comes to us really on his way to great things. We’re happy to be a part of his process. He’s been a part of the NBA family so far, being a part of Jr. NBA and then with us at Basketball Without Borders and his coaching in the Philippines. We’re happy to continue be a part of his journey.”
As these players eye potential NBA futures, they’ll use next season to get stronger on the court, and more familiar with what’s to come off of it as well. Abdur-Rahim shared that part of the mentorship these prospects will receive will be from NBA alumni in conjunction with the NBA Assistant Coaches Program. The players will also be able to tap into the NBA’s network of resources to further their own professional development and enhance their financial literacy, among other important aspects of daily life as a professional athlete.
That said, anyone who has watched Sotto knows the future is bright and the sky is the limit as he continues to improve. As he welcomes an expanded audience who will watch what he can do in the NBA G League, viewers are in for a treat along the way.
“What we see in Kai is the physical talent, his size, and ability to move, his skill with his size. We think Kai can be a little under the radar in the sense that he’s new to the United States and the popular media of evaluating players,” the NBA G League President said. “In some ways, folks may not have seen him, but if you’ve seen him, you recognize that he’s made tremendous progress in a short amount of time. We think including him in our Select Program that he’ll make even further progress. We see Kai as having a lot of upside.”