AJ Edu believes that Kai Sotto made a great decision taking his talents to Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL), saying that it is a proven pathway towards his ultimate dream of making it to the NBA.
The 7-foot-3 wunderkind signed a multi-year deal with the Adelaide 36ers last April, just months after parting ways with the NBA G-League Ignite where he was the first international prospect to sign up for the program last year.
“I was very happy for him.
“Immediately when I heard the news, I made sure to contact him and congratulate him. I feel like it’s a very good step for him. We’ve seen it work before,” Edu told Radyo5’s Power and Play, Saturday.
The Toledo big man cited LaMelo Ball as a prime example of how the NBL has proven itself a launchpad to the world’s top basketball league.
Ball, back in 2019, signed a two-year deal — with NBA out clauses — with the Illawarra Hawks through the NBL’s Next Stars program.
The said program launched following the selection of ex-36er Terrance Ferguson in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Oklahoma City guard opted not to play college ball, instead going to the NBL straight out of high school.
Ball threw his name into the 2020 NBA Draft, and was the third overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets. He has immediately made an impact in the league, so much that he’s a frontrunner in the Rookie of the Year race.
The Next Stars program shows no signs of slowing down. It has another prospect primed for the NBA in Josh Giddey, which Edu also mentioned as he explained why the NBL could work out well for his Gilas Pilipinas teammate.
Giddey, a 6-foot-9 point guard, played 28 games for the 36ers. There, he averaged 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and a league-leading 7.6 assists per game. He was released just recently to allow him to prepare for the 2021 Draft.
“LaMelo Ball was the number three pick, he came from the NBL. And I think this year they got a couple of draft picks coming out there… I think the point guard from the team that he’s about to join is actually gonna be a draft pick.
“So, I mean, it’s definitely a pathway that is proven,” said Edu in the program hosted by former PBA commissioner Noli Eala.
The 21-year-old feels sold on how the NBL could help Sotto and his aspirations to become the first homegrown Filipino talent to make it to the NBA. Now, it’s all up to Sotto on how he can maximize the opportunity.
“So it’s just up to him, really. The sky’s the limit for him. As everyone knows, the potential that he has is incredible, so it’s just up to him,” Edu said.
“But the pathway that he’s going in, I feel like it’s the right direction.”