Chot Reyes has no doubts about the skillset Kai Sotto possesses, but the multi-titled mentor believes that the 7-foot-2 wunderkind has to toughen up more to get even better.
Reyes offered the assessment after seeing Sotto in the US during one of his visits there prior to the pandemic, which he shared on Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered this Thursday, as presented by SMART and supported by Mighty Sports and Choi Garden.
“I have no worries about Kai’s skills because he has all the skills for a basketball player. He’s a great ball-handler, a great shooter, great passer ’cause he sees the game very well. For me it’s really his strength,” he said.
The outspoken bench tactician got the chance to see Sotto in action during his visit, but he admitted that there were times he didn’t like the level of competition around the former Ateneo Blue Eaglets.
“There are times he plays with competitions that are not on the same level as he is, and I’m not too interested on that. I want him to get an opportunity to play against real top-flight caliber competition,” he said.
But with the path Sotto has chosen to take by joining the trailblazing NBA G-League select program, Reyes is optimistic that Sotto will get to improve.
There, the 18-year-old will play with his fellow top prospects in Fil-American sensation Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix, and recent additions Jonathan Kuminga and Princepal Singh.
“Being around Jalen Green and all that, everyday he’s going to get daily top-level competition, good practices in and that’s what Kai needs,” said the former Gilas Pilipinas drillmaster.
“He needs to toughen up. Kailangan niya mabugbog, play against people who are bigger, stronger, and better than he is, which he will never get here.”
Sotto, who flew to the US early last year, was the first international prospect to join the G-League’s select program. And Reyes is happy with the decision of the former Batang Gilas stalwart for his young career.
“For now, that’s the best option, because the people behind G League are also the NBA people. This is a project of the NBA, so it’s a good strategically for Kai to be there so he’s already in the NBA radar and part of the NBA family. It’s going to improve his chances of eventually getting drafted in the NBA,” said the five-time PBA Coach of the Year.
“I wanted to make sure that through all that, he gets top caliber competition. I think it’s a good situation for him,” he continued.
“The NCAA is a good option, Europe is still an option, but for now, because of the need for him to strengthen physically and develop physically, I think the best for him is to get that very specific training and monitoring from American trainers.”