MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto may have been left undrafted, but his focus on his ultimate goal remains the same.
Sotto had a shot at making history as the first Filipino selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday, June 23 (Friday, June 24, Manila time), but even if that didn’t pan out, he already set his sights on his next steps.
“The dream is always the NBA, so I’ll always have to do whatever it takes to get better, stronger, to improve,” the 7-foot-3 standout told News5 minutes after the draft night wrapped up.
“This is just a speed bump. We didn’t get to Plan A, but we got Plan B. It’s not going to stop me. It’s not a signal for me to stop, but to keep on going.”
Going undrafted means taking the longer route to the NBA, but Sotto said he’s willing to work his way up.
“There are certain things NBA teams look at. They’re usually looking at bigs who can defend the quicker players, the smaller players, because the NBA today has a lot switches, a lot of pick and rolls,” said Sotto.
“For big guys, they’re looking for the ones who are athletic, who are faster. I think that’s where I lack at, and that’s where I have to improve on to have a spot on an NBA team.”
Sotto’s agent Joel Bell, though, said the 20-year-old won’t see action in the NBA Summer League but will focus on his stint with Gilas Pilipinas, which is set to compete in the World Cup qualifiers and the FIBA Asia Cup this July.
“He’s going to pass up Summer League and play with the national team,” said Bell, noting that Sotto received several Summer League invites.
“We’re not going to do two-way contracts, we’re not going to G League, 10-day contracts,” he added, explaining that any of those options would mean minimal playing time.
In a later tweet, however, Sotto said his agent “misspoke” and “no decision has been made” on his Summer League plans.
Sotto also still has a standing two-year contract plus a third-year option with the Australia National Basketball League (NBL), where he finished his pro debut season with averages of 7.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in just a little over 15 minutes per game.
“We’re going for a non-North American team, we could go back to Australia. There are other teams in Europe that are also interested,” said Bell.
For Sotto, the focus is to keep polishing his skills in the best available setting.
“My development is always No. 1 priority. I’m only 20 years old so I still have a lot of room to grow and develop, to improve,” said Sotto.
“The next step I really have to think with my family. I just have to do everything to get better, to reach my dreams.”
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