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Sports

Kai begins NBA team workouts

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Kai begins NBA team workouts
Kai Sotto.
Adelaide 36ers / Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — The dream of making it to the NBA is slowly becoming a reality for Kai Sotto as the 7-3 center starts his tour of team workouts today preparatory to the rookie draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on June 23. Sotto, 20, has until June 13 to decide whether or not to remain in the draft which has drawn 270 applicants, including 40 international players not from US schools, and only 58 will be picked.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time but I can’t wait,” said Sotto in an interview arranged by Smart Sports from his Atlanta base. “It’s the first time a full-grown Filipino has been this close but I’m still just focused on working hard every single day to improve, get better and be ready when the draft comes.”

After ending his first season with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australian league last month, Sotto flew home to Manila for a brief visit then went to Atlanta to begin training with Jeremiah Boswell of The Skill Factory. “Jeremiah’s a great trainer, helping me the past two weeks and I’m happy with what we’ve done so far,” he said. “I train twice a day and lift thrice a week. It’s a workout with Jeremiah in the morning then I have a shooting workout six times a week. They’ve been pushing me these past weeks. Jeremiah has been my toughest trainer. I know I’m challenged when I work with him and that really prepared me for the upcoming NBA team workouts.”

The scuttlebutt is Sotto will attend workouts with at least 12 NBA teams. He wasn’t among the 76 players invited for the Draft Combine in Chicago last May 18-20 but his NBA agent Joel Bell said it’s no indication of lack of interest. “I wasn’t surprised he wasn’t invited,” said Bell. “Teams that scouted Australia this year were very enthusiastic about Kai who got better every week in the NBL. That’s why we have so many teams that want to bring him in for workouts. And we actually have a commitment from at least one team that will pick him if Kai stays in the draft. If you’re a team that thinks a player is pretty good but you’re not positive other teams realize it, the last thing you’re going to do is vote to invite him to the Combine because you don’t really want him in a display case.”

Bell said he’s convinced that when Sotto reports for team workouts, he’ll impress. “They’re going to be kind of dazzled,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean that he’s going to stay in the draft or not, that’s going to be a decision that Kai makes but I’m very confident they’re going to be dazzled. His skill set for a guy 6-9 is off the charts but not a guy who’s 7-3. An analogy I make sometimes is diamonds are really expensive because they’re rare, so is Kai. He’s a valued commodity.”

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