Photo from FIBA and PBATHE YOUNG75
Cariaso marvels at Kai Sotto's growth since his Jr. NBA stint
by Reynald Magallon, May 25, 2020 7:23am
Alaska head coach and Jr NBA mentor Jeff Cariaso had the chance to get a hand on a then-young and raw Kai Sotto way back in 2016 and he can't help but marvel at how far the 7'2" phenom has developed since then.
Cariaso, who served as a coach for the Jr. NBA program in the country, personally saw how Sotto back then when he was just 13 years old and still have rough edges around his game.
"We first got to really see Kai at the age of 12, 13 in [the] Jr. NBA and believe it or not, he wasn't even chosen as what we call like an All-Star that gets to go on a trip and get to compete against other Southeast Asian teams," Cariaso said in an interview with NBA Philippines Republika huddle podcast.
"He was young, he was thin, a little slow going up and down the court, skill set wasn't there. Pretty much he was just tall," Cariaso added.
It was in Sotto's third year in the program when Cariaso started to take notice of Sotto's significant improvement in his game.
He comes back for that third year [in the Jr. NBA], and there's a radical difference in his game. He's scoring at will because he's a foot or two taller than the guys guarding him," Cariaso commented.
Fast forward to the present time, the jr NBA Philippines is taking an entirely bigger route and is getting much of the attention in the US as he tries to go for his NBA dream.
Sotto, Fil-American Jalen Green and other high school standouts made waves last week when they decided to forego college and join the NBA G-League select team.
"It's amazing how you see him four years later after that Jr. NBA stint in 2016 and it's exciting to see where he is now. He has more to learn and more growth to happen for him, but I think he's really on the right path," said Cariaso
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