IF his personal trainer helped him become an NBA lottery pick, then Collin Sexton is excited to see if his guy can do the same for Kai Sotto.
Sexton’s personal trainer, Nick Stapleton, is Sotto’s current skills trainer and one of his coaches in Atlanta, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers rising star and the Filipino NBA prospect a chance to work out together in the offseason.
And Sexton, the eighth overall pick in the 2018 Draft, has raved about the improvement of the 7-foot-2 Sotto, who is in the US for training in a stopover before going to Europe to nurture his NBA dream further.
“Kai, that’s my guy,” said Sexton, who is in town for the Jr. NBA Philippines national training camp.
“He’s a great player,” he added of Sotto, who turned 17 last Saturday. “He’s going to be great, and he’s gotten a whole lot better. You all gonna see.”
Looking no further, Sexton has a teammate with Filipino blood and also had made huge strides the past NBA season in Jordan Clarkson.
“Jordan, he’s a great player,” Sexton said. “You know he’s gonna give – each and every night – he’s gonna come in and play hard regardless and he’s gonna get those buckets. As you all can see, he comes in the game and instant microwave, so he’s a great player and a great teammate on the court and off the court.”
For now, Sexton, who won gold for Team USA at the Fiba Under-17 World Cup in 2016, is doing his part to help other Filipino aspirants reach their NBA dream by coming over to the Philippines to coach the top 13- and 14-year-old players in a world-class training camp.
“it’s very important,” Sexton said. “I feel like this can make a big difference in kids’ lives, for me to just talk to them and can be able to ask me anything they want. I know it can go a long way.”
“And for myself, I take pride in coming here and speaking with the kids, just because I put myself in their shoes, and I know how much it felt to have that one person you can ask any question to growing up,” added the Alabama product, who averaged 16.6 points, three rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 78 games in his rookie NBA season.
Sexton is in Manila alongside WNBA icon Tina Penicherio, both of whom will help pick the top five boys and girls from the 80 finalists who will be named 2019 Jr. NBA Philippines All-Stars and serve as assistant coaches for the annual All-Star game.