Soto dreams of making it to the NBA
Philippine national team center Kai Soto spoke to Play It Right TV on Tuesday about his hopes of making the NBA and playing in the World Cup.
Soto is a highly sought-after prospect in Asian basketball beyond the Philippines. A 6-foot-10 big man, which is rare in Asia, Soto was born in 2002 and still has a lot of room to grow.
Despite his physical attributes, the NBA door didn’t open easily for Soto.
Soto chose the G League’s Ignite over the 안전놀이터 NCAA, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from playing a single game for the Ignite, and he joined Adelaide in the Australian League, where he averaged 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in the 2021-2022 season.
After one season in Australia, Soto entered the NBA Draft, but was unfortunately not selected by any teams. Soto continued to play in Australia, and in February of this year, he signed with the Hiroshima Dragonflies of the B.League to play in Japan.
After his rookie season with Hiroshima, Soto recently agreed to a contract extension with the club. However, his commitment to the NBA remains strong. “Kai Soto has an option to sign with an NBA team, so if he signs with an NBA team this summer, there is a possibility that his contract with us will be terminated,” said Hiroshima’s general manager.
After signing, Soto thanked the club, saying, “I am grateful to the club for giving me this opportunity and I am happy to have the chance to play in Japan next season,” and added, “The NBA is my biggest dream and I will continue to work hard in the Summer League in the United States this summer.”
Soto is currently busy attending mini-camps with several teams in hopes of making a roster for the Summer League in July. He has already made appearances at minicamps in Utah and Dallas, and will soon be attending a minicamp in New York.
Soto’s agent said, “Most players attend one or two mini-camps, but Soto is lucky enough to attend three. He has the opportunity to showcase himself to NBA teams and coaches, earn a spot on a Summer League roster, and compete with other hungry players.”
Soto is also on the Philippine National Team roster. However, his participation in the Summer League means that he will not be able to join the Philippines’ training camp in Lithuania, where they will play a series of friendly games against European teams. However, Soto emphasized that it won’t affect his preparation for the World Cup, which kicks off in late August.
“Summer League is in mid-July and the World Cup is in late August. I think we have plenty of time. Right now we’re focusing on the mini-camp schedule. I’m going to focus everything on Summer League and try to make it to the NBA. And after Summer League, I’m going to focus a lot on the World Cup,” he said.
“The World Cup is going to be the biggest opportunity and the highest level of competition I’ve ever played in my career. I’ll be playing against the best of the best in the world at the World Cup. I get nervous every time I think about it, and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said of the prospect of playing in the World Cup.
Can Soto fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA? If he performs well in the Summer League, NBA teams will be much more interested in him.