NBA G League

After bungled G League exit, what’s next for Kai Sotto?

JR Isaga

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STILL YOUNG. The 18-year-old Kai Sotto still has a lot of options ahead of him.

File photo by Paul Mata/Rappler

No longer eligible for college play after taking a salary in the G League, the 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto can still showcase his talents in other competent pro leagues

When one door closes, another one opens.

Such may be the case for many people from all walks of life, from common folk to special individuals like Filipino wunderkind Kai Sotto.

After his controversial parting of ways from the NBA G League Ignite Select Team without even playing a single game, the 7-foot-3 prospect has his supporters and critics wondering what’s his next move.

As Sotto’s handlers have remained predictably tight-lipped following his arguably unnecessary return to the country to play for Gilas Pilipinas, Sotto himself has to take his talents somewhere else if he wants to continue pursuing his NBA dream.

Luckily for him, while his path to the NBA just got a few new twists and turns, getting there is still not impossible as he can still showcase his current skill set and future potential in other competent professional leagues around the world.

The keyword to take note of here is “professional.”

Yes, the 18-year-old Sotto can no longer play for most collegiate leagues after taking in a salary with G League Ignite. That includes the US NCAA, where he got Division I offers, and the UAAP in the Philippines, where he settled with Ateneo de Manila University.

Instead, the teenage tower can take his act to the EuroLeague, arguably the second-best pro basketball league in the world that produced current NBA stars like Sotto’s 7-foot-3 comparison, Kristaps Porzingis.

It is worth remembering that Sotto got international attention following his UAAP high school exit after he got a handful of lucrative offers from established EuroLeague teams known for honing other teenage talents like Luka Doncic and Ricky Rubio.

However, if those offers no longer stand, Sotto can still try his luck in the Japanese B. League, where his Ateneo kuya Thirdy Ravena currently plays, or the Australian NBL, where current NBA Rookie of the Year frontrunner LaMelo Ball polished his craft.

Somewhat like Sotto, the youngest Ball brother also had a tumultuous road heading to the NBA due to an intense spotlight at a young age, and his well-documented shuffling through multiple leagues before being drafted third overall in last year’s draft.

Sotto’s story so far has been unfortunate, but not unique, and that’s a good thing.

Many talented prospects before him have tried and failed, but basketball history has shown over and over again that those who work hard, and most importantly, exercised patience in their journey have been richly rewarded in the end.

Sotto, despite already being crowned as the future of Philippine basketball, has a lot of time on his hands. His story is only just beginning. –

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