The Adelaide 36ers are grooming two players for possible entry into the National Basketball Association—the Philippines’ Kai Sotto and Australia’s Josh Giddey.
Thirteen months ago, the 36ers signed up the 6’8” Giddey as part of the Australian National Basketball League’s Next Stars Program, which has helped develop NBA draft prospects.
Adelaide 36ers’ team manager Jeff Van Groningen said Sotto will train and be developed in the same program that they are having with Giddey, who is considered one of Australia’s top basketball prospects with the NBA Global Academy, a training center at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Van Groningen believes that with the way Giddey is playing with the 36ers, the kid is expected to make it to the first round of the NBA if everything goes well.
“We really drew on the fact that we’ve been through many things with young players in the team, and of helping him (Kai) develop, of helping him where he wants to go. Every player is different, every journey is different,” said Van Groningen.
Giddey and Sotto are practically on the same path, with both playing in the NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. They also were part of the Basketball Without Borders.
At 18 years old, Giddey became the youngest player to play for the 36ers since the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons in 2013.
Just like Sotto with the Philippine team, Giddey saw action for the Australian national youth team and made his debut during 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualification.
Since he won’t be eligible for the National Basketball Association Rookie Draft this year, Sotto made a decision to take a different path by signing up with the 36ers and playing professional basketball in the Southern part of the country by August.
Sotto will soon set foot in Australia in four months’ time, in time for the Australian NBL season.
His agent Joel Bell said they have reached an agreement with the 36ers, which will take care of Sotto’s development and eventual and possible entry into the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft.
Sotto will join the 36ers once he is done with his commitments with the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball this year.
Now doing training activities in Miami, Florida, Sotto will fly back to the Philippines to rejoin Gilas in its preparations for the last window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers mid-June and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia from June 29 to July 4.
The 36ers, who placed seventh in the NBL, welcomed Sotto through head coach Henry Conner and manager Jeff Van Groningen last Wednesday.
Because of strict NBA eligibility, no team team will accept Sotto in the rookie draft this year because of the league’s eligibility rules on young recruits, wherein a player must be at least 19 years old to qualify.
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