CHICAGO - In this world we now live in, where technology has magically narrowed down the oceans, it's become evidently clear that wunderkind Kai Sotto could no longer hide from the prying eyes of the NBA's global scouting community.
Four weeks after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban acknowledged knowing about Sotto, but couldn't expound on it because of tampering rules, another high-profile NBA executive told SPIN.ph on Tuesday that the 16-year old gem is indeed on the radar.
This time, though, the declaration was unrestrained, the praise unabashed.
Moments after Sacramento gored the Bulls, 108-89, on Tuesday at the United Center, I asked Kings GM Vlalde Divac: "I know you scout for players all over the world, have you heard of this kid from the Philippines, Kai Sotto?"
Without taking even a second to pause and reflect, Divac quickly replied, "Yes. Yes, I did."
Divac used to be the head of basketball operations and consultant for Real Madrid, so I told him about the team's reported five-year $1 million offer to Sotto and wondered what his thoughts were on the rangy seven-footer.
"I saw some films. I think he's very talented, yeah. It's very important for him to stay focused and work on his game. The money, if you're good, it's gonna come," added Divac, who served two four-year terms as president of Serbia's Olympic Committee beginning in 2009.
Sotto's discovery isn't about whispers, loose lips, and word of mouth. Sotto has actually been exposed through a diligent vetting process NBA franchises implement in search of the next big thing.
Austin Ainge. the son of Celttics GM Danny Ainge and Boston's director of player personnel and scouting, said it best when he told Bleacher Report in a June 2016 interview.
"it usually starts with the junior national teams. Under-16, under-18, we are following box scores, watching film and attending some of those. You start to see who the best players are from each country. There are some guys that don't end up playing on those teams, but most of the best players make their country's Under-18 teams. That's where it starts."
Hear that, Kai?
Scouts viewed you from the prism of physical tools, skill, vision, competitive fire, and basketball IQ. You must have enough of each or all of those traits for Real Madrid to come offering a generous bounty.
So, what are you waiting for, young man?
Carpe Deim. Seize the day.
Don't let the ink on that contract offer dry. Dreams, like money, never sleeps. Real Madrid, like time, doesn't wait. They will find someone else, just as easily as they found you.
Change is hard and the fear of the unknown is real. But there is nothing more dark and scary than the thought of spending the rest of your life wondering "what if?"
When you come to think of it Kai, there is no downside here.
Those who insist that you stay at Ateneo only have their own interests at heart. Those who think that money isn't paramount are mostly those who don't have it and therefore can't appreciate what it means to have financial freedom.
As any overseas Filipino worker will tell you, a five-year contract worth $1 million is a heck of a deal. Unlike the typical OFW, though, you're not just toiling for a livelihood, you will be on a noble quest to become the first full-bloodied Filipino to make the NBA.
Brush up on your Spanish, Kai, and go to Real Madrid.
A small step for you could potentially be a giant leap for Filipinos.