Chicago Bulls deputy says Kai Sotto ‘quite right on ready’ for NBA

Homer Sayson
Chicago Bulls deputy says Kai Sotto ‘quite right on ready’ for NBA

Paul Mata

'At his size, to be able to take down a dribble and make a move for himself, it's really impressive,' Bulls assistant Karen Umlauf says of the 7-foot-2 Filipino teen


CHICAGO, USA – With his increased presence in the US basketball community, Kai Sotto has been gaining the attention of several NBA personalities.

Karen Stack Umlauf, the assistant head coach of the Chicago Bulls, was the latest among them, noting that the 7-foot-2 teen prodigy can “someday be ready for the NBA.”

“I love his ability,” Umlauf told Rappler during the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) camp where Sotto was the lone Filipino representative. 

“He’s got a really good feel for the game. And at his size, to be able to take down a dribble and make a move for himself, it’s really impressive.” 

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, also said few months ago that he has heard about Sotto but could not discuss about him due to the league’s stern tampering rules. (READ: Kai Sotto glad to have pursued U.S. stint: ‘Dami kong natutunan’)

Vlade Divac, a former Los Angeles Laker and presently the GM of the Sacramento Kings, revealed in a separate interview that he had seen a video clip of the former Ateneo high school star and opined that what he saw was “really good.”

Umlauf, who has been working with the Bulls since 1984, said the 17-year-old Sotto – who trains at The Skill Factory in Atlanta – may just be on track of his NBA goals.  (READ: Kai Sotto expects more Filipinos to pursue NBA dream)

“I mean, his level is quite right on ready,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting strong enough, and the quickness of the NBA is something you have to get used to as well. But there is no reason why he won’t be ready.”

Prior to being promoted to her current position, Umlauf, a basketball standout at Northwestern University, was the executive assistant to the late Bulls GM Jerry Krause, the architect of the team’s 6 titles in the 1990s. 

Umlauf, who also served as director of Bulls basketball operations and GM of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, is just one of the 9 female assistant coaches in the NBA this season. 

“I’m so privileged and it’s about relationships you have and the opportunity,” she said. “I mean, I’m learning everyday. I am no means an expert at this level and I am just trying to learn as much as I can and be a real good assistant coach.” 

“She is a valuable piece of your staff,” Bulls head coach Jim Boylen told NBC5 Chicago in a November interview. “During the game she does the subs, the sub patterns, and she also does in-the-game stuff, the opponent’s in-the-game stuff.”

Obviously, Umlauf knows her basketball. 

And when her trained talent-evaluation skills suggest that Sotto is the real deal, that’s saying a whole lot. –


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