Kai Sotto has yet to make a decision as to his next steps after the 2021-22 season of the National Basketball League, but his coach at the Adelaide 36ers knows where the Filipino center will eventually end up.
"I'll be having some popcorn, watching him and sending him some messages while he's in the NBA," Adelaide coach CJ Bruton said recently, when asked about Sotto's ceiling as a basketball player.
Bruton made his comments after Sotto's best game yet as a 36er. The 19-year-old center scored a career-high 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field against the Brisbane Bullets earlier this week, although they still absorbed a 93-85 loss.
The coach was full of praise for Sotto, noting that the Filipino center has improved as their season progressed.
"We spoke after the last Brisbane game," said Bruton. "I told the big fella, this is what I need from you, here's what is left of the season, this is what I'm looking for, and this is how we progress going forward."
"And with the games that we have left, this is how I see that you can make an impact, regardless of how our group is going. This is what I need from you. If you give me this, I know we'll be better," he added.
After Sotto's performance against the Bullets, Bruton has no doubt that he can reach the next level, following the footsteps of players like LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton, and Josh Giddey who first played in the NBL before getting drafted to the NBA.
"He [Sotto] should be going pretty soon. If not this year, then definitely next year," said Bruton.
Sotto had signed a two-season deal with Adelaide in April 2021, with an option for a third.
With their season entering its closing stretch, Sotto said his focus remains on their campaign. The 36ers currently have a 7-17 record, putting them in ninth place in the league table.
They play the Perth Wildcats tonight at the RAC Arena.
"I always tell coach and that my teammates that I'll decide when the season ends," Sotto said of his future. "I'm just really focused on the remainder of the season and giving my all, and whatever happens after that, happens."