• Adelaide 36ers' Kai Sotto is now eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft
  • 36ers coach CJ Bruton is certain Sotto will have an opportunity to play in the NBA
  • The 7-foot-2 teenager has long been dreaming of making it to the NBA

A Filipino basketball phenom could be edging closer to making it to the NBA.

Adelaide 36ers center Kai Sotto is finally eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft.

According to 36ers coach CJ Bruton, a number of league scouts have already been asking about the 19-year-old.

"There's no doubt that Kai [Sotto] will have every opportunity to play in the NBA,” Bruton recently said PlayitrightTV. “If it's this year, depending on how the draft stock goes, I think his time will come. It's almost like your first year of college basketball but being a professional athlete.”

“I plan on getting [him to the NBA]," the coach continued. "I think for every scout that I've spoken to so far from around the NBA that wanna know about Kai Sotto and his personality, what he can bring and where he fits, I said ‘no doubt,’ he's gonna be [in the NBA].”

“Everyone understands that he's gonna be there at some point, it's just a matter of when.”

Officially listed as 7-foot-2, Sotto is aiming to become the first homegrown Filipino to play in the NBA.

Like most of his contemporaries, Sotto is also yearning to make a name for himself in the world’s premier professional basketball league.

"I envision myself to be an All-Star and I would do everything I can to be an All-Star," Sotto said of his NBA aspirations in 2020. "I imagine myself being part of a great organization, a great team."

"Five years from now, I wanna be the best in Asia, also being a Filipino and represent the Philippines," he added. "That’s five years from now. I think that’s the dream."

It can be recalled that Sotto was once heavily-touted to make it to the league, having been one of the most notable members of the NBA G League’s “Ignite” team.

However, things suddenly fell apart, with NBA G-League president Sharif Abdul-Rahim citing "challenges" that came about due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason why they pulled the plug on Sotto’s anticipated debut.

The teenage sensation then ended up joining Australia’s NBL.

“It’s a little tough with all that happened,” Sotto told Rappler of his controversial G League departure last April. “After that, I was really happy that the people around me helped me stay on my path, and keep focusing,” he said after also revealing that he was ineligible for the 2021 NBA Draft, after all.”

“Other players may have already given up from all the challenges and problems. I just tried not to think about it. I just continued to do what’s best for me. I worked and motivated myself.”

As it stands, Sotto has been a key figure for the 36ers this season. In his first five games for the team, he has averaged nine points, four rebounds, and 15.6 minutes per game.

Prior to his stint in the NBL with the 36ers, Sotto turned in a series of stellar outings for the Philippine national team at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.

Kai Sotto FIBA Philippines
Kai Sotto of the Philippines U19 national basketball team.