An experiment that failed to ignite

FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - March 5, 2021 - 12:00am

Prior to any important undertaking, it is always sensible to make an assessment, conduct research and do trial runs.  But sometimes, perhaps in haste or in a state of overconfidence, we assume that things turn out ok.  Well, in more ways than one, assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Once upon a time, at least three US NCAA Division 1 schools had their sights on Kai Sotto.  Top Spanish basketball teams Barcelona, Baskona and Real Madrid also made their intentions felt, with the latter placing on the table a million dollar offer to relocate and play in Madrid. 

A good number of players honed their skills in the Spanish league before progressing to the NBA.  Brothers Pau and Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Goran Dragic, Serge Ibaka and Kristaps Porzingis developed their games with Spanish clubs prior to their jump to the NBA.  The most famous NBA  import as of the moment is Luka Doncic who started at Real Madrid at the age of 13.

The Real Madrid offer was nice but I do wished Kai’s family had a serious take on the US NCAA D-1 offers.  He could have done well playing in college with the elite level of competition and  with all the scientific training and high tech equipment at their dispposal, it would be easy for Kai to impove and perhaps add some more bulk. 

But we’re not privy to whatever arrangements were made and Kai went on to train at the Skills Academy in Atlanta.  It was their decision to skip college and sign a contract with the NBA G-League, in the process becoming the first international player to do so.

Because Kai is committed to the National team, he flew back to the country and left the bubble in Orlando, Florida and his team, Ignite, opting out of the start of the G-League.  Ignite is a unique team, unaffiliated with any G-League franchise or any NBA team which is composed of elite NBA Draft-eligible players coached by 3-time NBA champion Brian Shaw.

The G-League test-fire failed to ignite but Kai’s NBA dream is still reachable.  Because he made his signature appear on the dotted line, he’s now a professional player, not eligible to play college ball.  What he needs to do is to continue training and take his talents maybe to the world’s second best league, the Euro League.   He can opt to the Australian League, the Chinese League, perhaps Japan’s B-League or be the PBA’s biggest attraction.  

Life is always full of ups and downs but how can we rebound from our disappointments if we don’t learn from our missteps and make adjustments.  Kai is only 18 and he has many productive years ahead of him.  This corner wishes him well.



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