Glowing welcome for Kai

    SOTTO: Excited but staying humble.
    SOTTO: Excited but staying humble.

    “THE best young player from Asia.”

    With these glowing words, NBA G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim officially welcomed towering center Kai Sotto to the NBA family last Wednesday.

    Sotto, 18, is set to suit up for the new G League select squad and fuel his bid to become the first homegrown Filipino to play in the NBA.

    The 7-foot-2 Sotto posted on his Instagram account @kzsotto the package he received from the NBA G League: an NBA G League t-shirt and cap, a bag, and a message from Abdur-Rahim.

    “I wanna start by first congratulating you on everything that you’ve accomplished so far being one of the top-rated players in this year’s class, the best young player from Asia, we’re so excited to have you,” Abdur-Rahim, a former NBA All-Star, said in the message.

    “With the pro path team, with the G League, we wanna welcome you to the NBA family.

    We’re excited to tip your first season off.”

    Sotto will be joined by other top amateur standouts such as athletic Fil-Am wingman Jalen Green, forward Isaiah Todd, playmaker Daishen Nix, and new addition Congolese forward Jonathan Kuminga in the select team.

    Former NBA champion Brian Shaw will call the shots for the squad.

    The pioneering team, based in the Los Angeles area, will play a limited schedule and won’t be affiliated with any individual G-League franchise.

    A former UAAP Juniors MVP with Ateneo High School and Batang Gilas standout, Sotto said he is happy where he is.

    “Stay Humble… Blessed to be (a part) of such a great organization,” said Sotto.

    The son of former pro Ervin, Sotto left the Philippines last year to train at the Atlanta-based The Skills Factory and was signed up by the select team last May 11.

    He opted to skip college and take a year before entering the NBA Draft.

    Under the G-League select program’s path, players will be given a chance to play with veterans and be coached by experienced strategists like Shaw to provide mentorship throughout the season.

    Sotto is only the third Filipino to play in the NBA G-League after Japeth Aguilar with the Santa Cruz Warriors in 2012 and Ray Parks Jr. with the Texas Legends in 2015-16.