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Kai Sotto's agent says NBA teams committed to draft prospect

Alder Almo - Philstar.com
Kai Sotto's agent says NBA teams committed to draft prospect
Kai Sotto
STAR / File

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Philippines’ best prospect Kai Sotto may not be a popular name in major mock drafts, but he is a legitimate NBA talent in the eyes of many teams. 

A day after Sotto declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, his agent Joel Bell bared that he secured commitments from NBA teams that the 19-year-old phenom would get drafted.  

“He would have been drafted last year if he had been able to be in the draft. He'll be drafted this year if he chooses to remain in the draft,” Bell told Philstar.com. “We don't know [which round] exactly right now, but we have some assurances that he would be drafted.”

Bell declined to disclose the NBA teams interested in the 7-foot-4 Filipino center, but he said he’s been talking to all 30 teams.  

A lawyer and a former athlete himself, Bell currently represents four players in the NBA: the Memphis Grizzlies’ De’Anthony Melton, Sacramento Kings’ Terrence Davis, New York Knicks’ Ryan Arcidiacono and Minnesota Timberwolves’ Greg Monroe. In the past, he represented former second overall pick Michael Beasley, Steve Blake, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, Larry Sanders, Jamario Moon and DeAndre Jordan. 

Bell’s focus now lies in realizing Sotto’s and an entire nation’s dream of having the first homegrown Filipino in the NBA. Sotto hopes to join Filipino-Americans Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz and former NBA G League teammate Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets in the NBA. 

A former four-star prospect, Sotto chose the professional route over the US NCAA. He was the first international player to sign with the G League Ignite program, but he never suited up due to prior obligations with Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippine's national basketball team. 

After his Gilas stint in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Sotto moved to Australia’s National Basketball League. He played for the Adelaide 36ers, which produced last year’s sixth overall pick Josh Giddey. 

“[Kai] improved the whole year. He's gotten better every week, every game. It was a really good situation for him. The Adelaide group did a great job helping him develop physically basketball-wise, and the veterans on the team were really helpful,” Bell said. “It was a great all-around situation for him. I can't say enough good things about Adelaide, the team, his teammates, the coaches, and the front office staff.”

Sotto had a strong finish to his first and could be his lone season in the NBL, where he averaged 7.5 points on 50% shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 0.83 blocks in just 15 minutes. He scored in double figures in three of his final five games, including a career-high 21 points in 18 minutes off the bench against the three-time NBL champion Brisbane Bullets. 

Sotto’s combination of size and skillset is what intrigued NBA teams. 

“He's [a] perfect [big man] for the modern NBA. He can shoot the ball from the outside. He can put it on the floor. He can play,” Bell said. 

Sotto is scheduled to return to the US in early May to prepare for the NBA Draft. His camp has until June 13 to decide whether to stay in the draft or get another year of experience overseas. 

“If we don't like where we think he would go, then he'll possibly pull out of the draft, but that remains to be seen,” Bell said. 

“We will play this out and decide at the appropriate time if it's the place and the draft position he wants to go to or if he wants to wait another year. He's in a great situation. I mean, he can't lose. He's got nothing but great options right now.”

Sotto is not on the ESPN and other major US sports outlets' top 60 NBA prospects, but he has a chance to raise his draft stock in private workouts with teams and at the Draft Combine in Chicago from May 16-22 if invited. The invitation list is determined by a vote of the member teams of the NBA. 

“I think that once people meet him in person and see him up close, and his skillset and athletic ability, it'll be very helpful to his draft position,” Bell said. 

Last year, 69 prospects were invited to the NBA Draft Combine. Four standouts from the G League Elite Camp also made it to the Draft Combine from an initial list of 40. 

Only 58 prospects will be picked in the two-round NBA Draft after the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat forfeited their second-round picks due to tampering violations. 

The NBA Draft is on June 23 in Brooklyn, New York. 

 

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Alder Almo is a former senior sportswriter for Philstar.com and NBA.com Philippines. He is now based in Jersey City, New Jersey, and writes for the New York-based sports website empiresportsmedia.com.

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