6-foot-9 Kai Sotto, 13, harbors dreams his size
SEVENTY-FOUR players showed up for the first day of the National Jr. NBA Camp at Don Bosco Makati Friday, but one hopeful literally stood out.
Only 13 years old and standing 6-foot-9, Kai Sotto showed immense potential with his soft, feathery touch in and around the basket as well as his coordination—which is noticeably remarkable considering his towering figure.
Sotto grew up in a basketball family with his father, 6-foot-7 Ervin Sotto, a former PBA first round pick, introducing him to the game when he was two years old. Ervin’s wife, Pamela, also stands six-foot flat.
While it remains to be seen how tall he can grow, Sotto, a freshman at St. Francis of Assisi high school, has set his sights on representing the country in the international stage.
Sotto, who shoots with his left hand, is projected to grow to 7-foot-6 considering the fact that he grew five more inches the past year, according to Ervin.
Sotto’s ultimate goal is to play in the NBA just like his idol Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks. Porzingis is the Knicks’ 7-4 rookie who has also caught the attention of experts for his mix of size, coordination and shooting touch.
But for now, Sotto is working tirelessly in laying the foundation to a career by joining basketball camps aimed at improving his skills
“I’m focusing on the simple things and fundamentals, which is a big factor in playing basketball,” said Sotto, who wears size 15 sneakers, in Filipino.
Point guard Norris Cole of the New Orleans Pelicans, who is in Manila for the camp, was surprised to see a player of Sotto’s height showing potential.
“He has a good upside,” Cole, a two-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat, said of Sotto. “If he keeps working hard, he has the potential to do special things.”
Cole said Sotto is on the right track, focusing on the fundamentals of the game.
“He is blessed because he has something you cannot teach, which is height. If his skills match up with his size, he could be a very special player,” Cole said.
Former PBA Most Valuable Player Willie Miller, who is one of the coaches in the camp, said Sotto must continue to nurture his love for the game.
“He is young. He has to love the game and enjoy himself; that’s the most important thing for him now,” said Miller.
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