Step by step

Trainer of NBA MVPs impressed with Sotto, wants to see day-to-day improvement in PH teenager

By: Cedelf P. Tupas - Inquirer.net | May 28,2020 - 09:14 AM

Kai Sotto continued to take significant steps in his goal to become the first homegrown Filipino player to reach the NBA.

A week after signing with high-profile agent Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management, the 7-foot-2 Sotto worked under NBA skills trainer Rob McClanaghan, whose client list includes former NBA MVPs Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Sotto signed with NBA G League select team early this month, joining top prospect Jalen Green in preparation for a career in the world’s most popular basketball league.

McClanaghan worked with Sotto over the past week and was impressed with what he saw.

“He is very talented and versatile,” McClanaghan said in an email to the Inquirer. “He can use both hands well and has a very good midrange shot from 15 to 18 feet.”

McClanaghan said Sotto has barely scratched the surface with regards to his potential.

Room for improvement

“He just turned 18 so he has plenty of room for improvement and polishing,” the trainer said. “I look at that as a very good thing. If he works at it on and off the court, he can be a very good NBA player. He loves to work out and play and that is always a great sign for someone his age and level. The goal is to just improve day by day and take our time.”

The son of former PBA player Ervin Sotto signed up with Goodwin as soon as he decided to join the G League, which is headed by one of the agent’s clients, Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

High-profile agent

Goodwin was Lebron James’ first agent, negotiating endorsement deals worth $135 million including the mammoth $90-million contract with Nike.

San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan headlines Goodwin’s current client list that also includes Green. The agent has negotiated almost $500 million in player contracts, including the $196-million extension of Portland Trailblazers guard Damian Lillard, according to Forbes magazine.

“Not only does Kai have big-time goals of becoming the Philippines’ first native-born NBA player, he has the drive and skill to match,” Goodwin said in his Instagram post announcing Sotto’s signing. “We look forward to working with Kai and his family in partnership with East West Private (EWP).”

EWP currently manages the career of Sotto.

Meanwhile, in NBA Philippines’ Republika Huddle show, Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone said he sees Sotto as the type of big man suited for today’s game.

“He moves well. He has a feathery touch. He’s more along the lines of a modern center,” he said.

“Big men are evolving,” the two-time Grand Slam mentor said. “He’s on the right track. I think the kind of game that we have now is built for his type of body so I think that’s really good news for him.”

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