Kai Sotto vows to keep going despite going undrafted: ‘The dream is always the NBA’

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Kai Sotto. –ADELAIDE 36ERS PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Being undrafted won’t stop Kai Sotto from chasing his ultimate dream of playing in the NBA.

The 20-year-old center’s name was not called after 58 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft on Friday, but there remain ways for Sotto to still become the first Filipino homegrown talent to suit up in the league.

“The dream is always the NBA so I have to do whatever it takes to get better and get stronger, to improve. It’s just a speed bump. We didn’t get to Plan A but we got Plan B. This is not a signal for me to stop, but to keep on going,” said Sotto during his interview on PlayItRight TV.

As part of his Plan B, the 7-foot-3 Filipino could play in the Summer League, where NBA aspirants play to impress scouts and coaches.

While his agent Joel Bell said they are skipping the off-season showcase, Sotto stressed his handler misspoke and nothing is final yet.

Bell also revealed that returning to the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League and entertaining offers from Europe are part of their options. But agent prefers not to accept two-way contracts in the NBA or play in the G-League.

‘STILL ROOM TO GROW’

With the path to his NBA dream getting harder and his future getting filled with uncertainties, Sotto assured he won’t stop developing his skills until he reaches his ultimate goal.

“Of course, my development is No. 1 priority. I’m only 20 years old so I still have a lot of room to grow and develop and to improve,” he said. “The next step is really to think about it with my team, my family. I just have to do everything to get better and reach my dream.  It’s not yet over.”

Sotto believes the NBA teams are looking for quicker big men, who can defend smaller and faster players.

“They’re usually looking for bigs who can defend quicker and small players. NBA today has a lot of switches, pick and rolls. They’re looking for the ones that are athletic, mobile, faster,” he said. “I think that’s what I lacked and needs to improve on for me to have a spot on an NBA team.”

Despite not getting drafted, the former Ateneo high school star relished his experience during his pre-draft workouts with teams like the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings, and Indiana Pacers.

“I think it got better every workout. Just the travel and the workouts, it’s been a fun experience. I learned a lot and I’m gonna bring this experience while I continue to play basketball,” he said.

Sotto felt the support of the Filipino fans after his name was a trending topic on Twitter during the Draft, but he felt that he let a basketball-crazed nation down.

“I’m still always thankful for all the support I get from fellow Filipinos and just happy whatever happens, they’re always there for me,” he said. “I just feel like I let the people down. I will always remember this feeling so next time, I will do my best. It’s a chip on my shoulder every time I step on the court.”

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