Filipino prodigy Kai Sotto to sign for NBA G League
Kai Sotto will be an NBA G League player next season according to various media reports.
The 2.19m centre from the Philippines would become the first international draft prospect to join the NBA G League program.
The 18-year-old is set skip college and follow his dream of becoming the first ever Filipino-born basketball player in the NBA.
The news was first reported by the Athletic.
This likely means no NCAA basketball in the United States for Sotto despite offers from top teams including the Kentucky Wildcats, DePaulUniversity, and the universities of Georgia, and Southern California (USC).
The decision will come as a disappointment too for many international clubs like Spanish giant Real Madrid hoping to bring in the Filipino star and his giant following.
This is another big statement signing for the G League following future NBA stars Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd, who have also committed themselves to the program.
While players do not get paid at big universities, the G League is a professional development league, a feeder school for the NBA, and the program has upped the offers to keep big talents at home.
Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix are other big names on the G League books.
Who does Kai Sotto play for?
Sotto will play with the new G League 'Select Team' alongside Green, Todd and Nix, which is expected to be based in the Los Angeles area in southern California.
The team will have a limited schedule of games and will not be affiliated with any individual G League franchise.
Much like his new teammates, Sotto had various college offers on the table and international pro ball clubs also lining up to court the 2.19m (7'2) sensation.
Kai has spent a year building himself up physically and learning the game technically at The Skill Factory (TSF) in Atlanta, Georgia.
And while the coronavirus outbreak has put the NBA and the G League on hold for now, it looks like Kai has found a new home.
What is the NBA G League?
The G-League is the NBA development league.
You have to be 19 and a full year out of high school to join the NBA draft and the G League wants to be an NBA stepping stone for basketball's in-betweeners.
It gives young players a place to play and grow before they become eligible for the NBA draft.
The majority of NBA hopefuls play for a college for at least one year before they go to the big -time, but not all.
Some hold back another year in high school, some go and play professionally abroad, and some simply wait.
With big talents like LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton leave the U.S. to play in the Australian NBL last season on professional contracts in a foreign league, the G League has upped their game and raised their contract offers.
Both Ball and Hampton are expected to be lottery picks in this year’s NBA Draft.
The G League will be hoping the same happens for its growing roster of fledgling stars.
NBA G League gets their man
Last month G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim made it clear that the league had more targets, and was interested in giving the league an international flavour.
“Yeah, I think there’s options out there to add more and they don’t have to be high school guys, they can be young international guys,” he told Forbes.
Abdur-Rahim was the No. 3 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and played for the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Atlanta Hawks among others.
“We’ve had conversations there but there is opportunity for more of the high school guys, more young guys, to be a part of the program this year. If not, with Jalen and Isaiah, we think it’s totally fine.”
Now with Sotto and Nix also on board, the G League is set to showcase some of the most exciting young talent on the planet next season.