Kai Sotto bared that he is not giving up his NBA dream despite being snubbed in the recently-concluded NBA 2022 Rookie Draft.
“Not the outcome that we wanted, but it’s what I needed. My vision became clearer and I believe in God’s plans for me. I’m far from over and I’m not stopping till I get to fulfill my dream,” the 20-year-old 7-foot-3 center wrote in an Instagram post.
Sotto, who became an unrestricted free agent following the setback, hoped that could become the first Filipino homegrown talent to be drafted into the NBA.
Interviewed on PlayItRight TV moments after the NBA Draft, he said, “I can’t really explain the feeling but it’s not a good feeling. I really worked hard and did my best to get here.”
The former Ateneo high school standout continued, “But it’s what happened. God has better plans for me and I won’t stop.”
More to come for Kai Sotto
He can still get a shot to play in the NBA if he plays in the NBA Summer League, which Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone said would be a great opportunity for Sotto.
Cone, who will form part of the Miami Heat coaching staff for the NBA Summer League, said the promising young cager has “unique skills”.
He said that it may not be appropriate to call Sotto a unicorn as that label is reserved for [Washington big man Kristaps] Porzingis and now [Oklahoma City draftee] Chet Holmgren. “But I’ll call him a baby unicorn. He’s still developing his skills. He’s got a shot [to make the NBA]. There’s no doubt,” the winningest PBA coach said.
Visibility, according to him, is what Sotto needs to fulfill his NBA dream. And the Summer League will be a great way to get playing time and showcase his skills.
The veteran coach added, “Someone’s going to find him. If you’re that good, they’ll find you in the NBA. You cannot hide.”
Sotto played in Australia for a season with the National Basketball League’s Adelaide 36ers, which might have kept him hidden from the NBA scouts’ radar.
Watching a player in Australia through videos and highlights, Cone said, is far different from scouting players in the USA where full-time scouts can watch actual games in North Carolina, Georgia, or the University of California, Los Angeles.
Cone added that what really hurt Sotto the most was the COVID-19 pandemic where he missed out on opportunities to build himself up and his momentum.
NLEX coach Yeng Guaio, meanwhile, said he thought that Kai was the best shot for a Filipino to get to the NBA. “If Kai can’t make it, nobody in the present generation [of Filipino players] can,” he said.
Undrafted player Jeremy Lin advised Sotto to keep believing in himself since being undrafted is not at all an indicator of where he will be down the road.
Sotto reportedly said he is not closing his doors on the Summer League as he is still considering it although Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes has offered him to join the team that will compete for the third window of the FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers. The Taiwanese-American was also undrafted but he played for the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and Toronto Raptors in his nine-year NBA career.