A VETERAN scout who facilitated Kristaps Porzingis' move from Latvia to Spain is firm in his belief that Kai Sotto is an 'NBA material' who can get to the top US league in four to five years, if he makes the right decisions.
Barcelona-based talent scout Salva Mendez said he believes Kai Sotto has the height, skills and hunger to make it to the NBA, comparing his potential to a young Porzingis before the Latvian's jump to Seville and later the US league.
“They are more of less at same level at same age,” the Spanish scout said of the prodigious Ateneo Blue Eaglets slotman, who is 7-foot-2 and still growing. “But Kai is taller at same age. Kristaps at 15 was (only) 6-11."
Mendez, formerly with the YouFirst agency and now the director of international scouting at Spain-based Stella Azura Basketball Academy, said he believes Sotto can make it both to the Euroleague and NBA, given his potential.
“I see many things in him that I feel he can be an NBA material. Not only his size, also he got skills, special post moves. He can shoot and run the court well,” he said. “Also seems intelligent and with desire to win and learn. And he is hungry."
"Kai has all the elements to become an NBA player in four or five years," he added.
Sotto, 16, has received an offer from Spanish league side Real Madrid to train and study in one of the country's basketball academies. However, the teen prodigy's family has been mum on the offer.
Mendez said there is no doubt in his mind that the Ateneo Blue Eaglets star should accept the offer, saying it will be beneficial not only for him but for the Philippine team in general.
“Yes, they should let him go,” said Mendez of Ateneo, stressing that whatever Sotto can learn in Europe he can bring to the Philippine team.
“Go to Real Madrid, it can be the fastest way to reach the NBA. Kai is an NBA material without a doubt,” he said.