ON THE occasion of his 18th birthday last Monday, Kai Zachary Sotto made the monumental announcement that he would bypass college to turn professional. The 7’2” phenom will be part of a new team to be based in Southern California under the NBA G-League Select Program.
The past months have seen recruiting pitches from top universities like Kentucky, Aubrun, DePaul, Southern California and Georgia Tech but the opportunity was too big to pass. Sotto will receive a total of US$125,000.00 or PHP6,296,000.00 for a five-month contract plus guidance towards his goal of being the first home-grown Filipino to make it to the NBA.
He will be joined by Filipino-American Jalen Green, the same 6’5” forward that he faced during the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) National Finals at the SM Mall of Asia the last two years and also during the recent FIBA Under-17 and Under-19 World Cups. Green is projected as this year’s top high school prospect and a potential top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The duo will take the court when the new season opens this coming November. Last March 11, the G-League called off the remainder of the 2019-2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBA G-League Select Program is on its first year of implementation and not all prospects who wish to join will be accepted. Some years back, the NBA banned fresh high school graduates like in the case of Lebron James, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant from jumping straight into the pros so the options back then were either to enroll for a year in college or play as an import overseas.
Sotto is currently finishing Grade 12 at The Skill Factory in Atlanta, Georgia.