By REYNALD MAGALLON
Adelaide 36ers newly-appointed head coach CJ Burton was pleased to have Kai Sotto on the board as he makes his coaching debut in the National Basketball League in the upcoming 2021-2022 season.
Burton sees a lot of potential in the 7-foot-3 center as he shares his optimism that Sotto will provide a huge impact to Adelaide’s campaign in the upcoming season
“He has such a great upside even though I know he’s still young,” said Burton in an article published on NBL website.
“As a 19-year-old kid there will be some adjustment for him to play against men in the NBL, but I’m so excited by his ability to already make an impact.”
Apparently, Sotto has been in Burton’s radar since his high school days in Ateneo de Manila University.
Burton, who was an assistant coach for Brisbane Bullets during that time, kept an eye on Sotto even during his training in the US and when he signed with G-League.
When Sotto’s G League plan fell apart, Burton tried to convince the Bullets to sign the teen wunderkind but his tip fell on ‘deaf ears’.
“I was trying to push that through the organization and not knowing which way our organization was headed, and who was coaching. Everyone let it fall on deaf ears but I said he was coming to someone and I still remember following Kai from when he was in high school,” he shared.
“I wanted the club to jump on him but it never happened and then when I was in Brisbane, I saw the 36ers snap him up and I was really disappointed to miss out on working with him,” he added.
But fate worked its wonders as Burton got the head coaching job after the 36ers and former coach Connor Henry parted ways, giving him the chance to handle the Filipino sensation.
“With Kai Sotto, we’ve got the blessing of having a young kid who has been put on my doorstep who I was pushing for when I was in Brisbane,” he said.
“I can’t see why he won’t be able to make his mark this season and like Mo King, they both have aspirations for bigger and better things. But it’s all about them making themselves part of our team and helping us play well, and that’s important for their development.”