High school phenom Kai Sotto is still mulling over his plans for the near-future, but his ultimate goal is clear: He wants to make it to the NBA.
"What's important for me is that I improve, that I get better, and that I get stronger especially that my real goal is to get to the NBA," Sotto said in Filipino. "I'll do anything to get there."
Sotto did not mince words in his quest to become part of the world's premier basketball league after Monday's press conference for the upcoming 2019 Chooks-to-Go SM NBTC National Finals. At the young of age of 16, Sotto has been named the top high school player for the second year in a row, according to the NBTC 24 annual high school rankings.
The 7-foot-2 big man is coming off a stellar year in the UAAP Season 81 Juniors Division where he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Using his length, athleticism, and all-around playmaking ability, he posted averages of 25.1 points. 13.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks. He also became adept in the international game after headlining three Batang Gilas contingents during last year's FIBA competitions.
Starting late last year, rumors regarding offers from international ball clubs emerged, most notably from Real Madrid. Sotto reaffirmed those propositions after Season 81 concluded when the Ateneo Blue Eaglets lost in the finals.
Among those interested in Sotto aside from Real Madrid are FC Barcelona, Baskonia, Alba Berlin, and Movistar Estudiantes.
"Of course I'm welcoming their offers for me," he shared. "I don't take it for granted because I know they're for me and for my benefit."
Fortunately for Kai, his father Ervin Sotto has been nothing but supportive. The elder Sotto usually receives the offers and he shares everything with his son.
"He's really transparent. So I just ask him and he simply says yes or no," Sotto said about his dad.
"We'll really think about it first before we can make a decision," he added, mentioning that he'll most likely come up with an answer this summer.
Sotto also shared that he had the opportunity to travel to some of those recruiting teams. Among the things that he's considering aside from the teams themselves are the advanced facilities and the education he's going to receive.
But for the wunderkind, the main factor of his decision will boil down to his growth as a player given that he has an NBA dream to pursue.
"The development as a player," he said on what's most important. "Because I have the option to not choose a club at all and simply train with them."
Sotto will compete in the NBTC National Finals next week together with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets. As the number one ranked player in the country, he will also be part of the All-Star Game together with the nation's best high school standouts. Afterward, time will only tell if the future of Philippine basketball will decide to take his talents to international waters and hopefully make it to the NBA one day.
"I just treasure these moments," Sotto humbly said on how European teams are wanting him. "All I'm thinking about is how I can repay all the positive things that they said about me. I have to prove to them that I deserve to be recognized."