(UPDATED) After one season in Australia's National Basketball League (NBL), Filipino center Kai Sotto believes he is ready to make the jump to the NBA.
The 19-year-old Sotto on Thursday revealed that he is declaring for the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft.
"I have declared for the 2022 NBA Draft. Please pray for and support me during my quest to fulfill my ultimate dream," Sotto said in an Instagram post where he also expressed his gratitude to the Adelaide 36ers.
The Filipino teenager was not in the list of entry candidates released by the NBA on Wednesday, but is automatically eligible to be drafted.
Sotto will look to make the jump after a 23-game stint with Adelaide in the NBL, where he averaged 7.32 points, 4.36 rebounds, and 0.68 block in 15.2 minutes per game.
If drafted, Sotto will become the second straight 36er to be selected. The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted guard Josh Giddey at sixth overall in the 2021 NBA Rookie Draft after a sensational campaign with Adelaide where he earned NBL Rookie of the Year honors.
Sotto is aiming to be the first homegrown Filipino in the NBA. Currently, there are two players of Filipino descent in the league: Utah's Jordan Clarkson and Houston's Jalen Green.
"To the 36ers Management, my teammates, my coaching staff and my agent Joel Bell, I am a better man and a better professional player than a year ago because you all took me under your wing and challenged and mentored me to live up to expectations," said Sotto, adding that he had an "unforgettable year" with the 36ers.
"To all the fans both old and new who support and even travel to games, and have lifted me up on this incredible journey, I am so blessed and inspired when I read your messages and hear your cheers," he added.
Sotto on Wednesday was named as the Fans' MVP of the 2021-22 season of the NBL.
Currently, Sotto does not appear in any of the mock drafts but this may change after his formal announcement of his entry.
The 2022 NBA Rookie Draft is on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Duke University's Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga University's Chet Holmgren are among the contenders for the top overall pick.