Filipino basketball player Kai Sotto was undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, temporarily delaying his dream of becoming the first-ever Philippine-born player in the NBA.
The 20-year-old was not selected in the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft that took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday.
“The dream is always the NBA, so I’ll always have to do whatever it takes to get better, stronger, to improve,” Sotto said. “This is just a speed bump. We didn’t get to Plan A, but we got Plan B. It’s not going to stop me. It’s not a signal for me to stop, but to keep on going.”
Sotto previously piqued the interest of the Chicago Bulls, who invited him to a private workout. Other teams, including the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks, had also expressed interest in the Filipino basketball player.
Although Sotto was left undrafted, many Filipinos continued to rally their support for the 7-foot-2-inch center, landing “Kai Sotto” and “Undrafted” on the top trends on Twitter.
“We are so proud of you! The dream is not over. Keep fighting!! We support you,” Filipino politician and former professional boxer Manny Pacquiao tweeted.
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) June 24, 2022
Sotto may still get an invite for the 2022 NBA Summer League that is slated to start on July 7. He also has the option to return to the Australian National Basketball League, where he still has a standing two-year contract that he signed with the 36ers last year, plus a third-year option. He finished his pro debut season with averages of 7.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks.
“My development is always No. 1 priority. I’m only 20 years old so I still have a lot of room to grow and develop, to improve,” Sotto told Rappler. “The next step I really have to think with my family. I just have to do everything to get better, to reach my dreams.”
Asian basketball players Lee Hyun-jung and Fanbo Zeng, whom many had high hopes for being selected in the NBA Draft, also went undrafted.
Lee, the 21-year-old South Korean college basketball player, was considered a fringe second-round candidate, but he suffered a foot injury during a workout which affected his draft stock.
Creole-Vietnamese American player Johnny Juzang also was not drafted; however, the UCLA basketball guard has agreed to a two-way contract with the Utah Jazz. The contract will allow him to split time between NBA clubs and their G League affiliates.
Jaylin Williams, who is of Vietnamese descent, was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. He made history by becoming the first Razorback the Thunder have selected in the NBA Draft.