Kai Sotto’s bid to become the first homegrown Filipino in the NBA will have to go other ways after failing to get his name mentioned on Draft Night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Thursday.

Thirty teams passed Sotto in the annual draft, which saw Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren go at No. 1 and No. 2 for the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, while Jabari Smith Jr. was picked by the Houston Rockets to complete an expected top three.-

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Throughout the draft process, Sotto worked with the Magic, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers.

However, Sotto is not giving up all hope as he attempts to earn an invite to the 2022 NBA Summer League scheduled to start on July 7. Impressing with his game can still land you a training camp deal or a two-way deal. meaning he is eligible to play in 50 of the team’s 82 games and has a chance for his contract to become a regular deal.

A return to Adelaide is also on the table, as he still has two more years (with the second team option) remaining on the original three-year deal he signed with the 36ers last year.

Regardless of the step, not being drafted is simply a detour of sorts for Sotto, a journey that began in the Jr. NBA program in 2015 and took him to the Australian National Basketball League last year.

The son of former PBA veteran Ervin began his basketball career with St. Francis of Assisi before breaking out in the Jr. NBA and coming to the Athenaeum in 2016. There, he played three seasons in high school basketball. from UAAP and won a title, a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP trophy and a Finals MVP award.

Sotto then went to the United States to train with The Skills Factory, an Atlanta-based development program that broke new ground. He joined the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp during NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago in February 2020 and then the G League Ignite development team in May of the same year.

He left Ignite without playing a single game for the team and decided to turn professional by signing a three-year deal with Adelaide in the NBL. He posted 7.5 points on 49.6 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 15-plus minutes in 24 games.

A strong finish to the season, in which he averaged 11.6 points on 52.6 percent shooting along with 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while scoring in double figures in three of those contests, helped propel the Sotto’s decision to join the 2022 NBA Draft, where he was a self-selected recruit by virtue of being a 19-year-old talent a year after playing high school basketball.

An NBL return appears to be a likely option at some point and it’s a choice that Adelaide’s brass are willing to accept.

“The NBL is a great stage for him to continue to develop against grown men who are physical and competitive, with all of our support and resources in Adelaide,” Adelaide scouting director Theodore Chan told ESPN. “We’re thrilled to see his growth since last season, and we have plans to continue to improve his game, should he decide to return after the NBA draft process.”


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