NBA prospect from Philippines wants to create basketball academy at Spooky Nook in Hamilton

An 18-year-old, 7-foot-3-inch NBA prospect from the Philippines wants to create an academy for future basketball players at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, which is set to open in December 2021.

Kai Sotto wants his Kaiju Academy to be housed at the 1.3-million-square-foot Hamilton indoor sports complex that will be North America’s largest, officials with Spooky Nook and the city said.

Sotto, a member of the NBA G League Team Ignite, was not in town on Tuesday but was quoted in a news release as saying Kaiju is a Japanese term for monster, beast, or strange creature that he wants to embody his and the academy’s basketball play.

Spooky Nook Sports President Jim Launer said in the news release his company’s Spooky Nook facility near Lancaster has hosted international events during the past seven years.

“We hope to continue this trend in Hamilton, alongside the Kaiju Academy and other similar partners,” Launer said. “The Nook is known as a top-notch destination for clubs, tournaments and competitions nationally, and we hope to continue to grow that reputation in the international space.”

Sotto, a former member of the Philippines National Team, plans to bypass college basketball and in May became the first international player to sign a contract with the specially formed G League Elite Development Team with other top draft prospects. His Kaiju Academy wants to attract young men, women and teams from across the U.S. and internationally, officials said.

Spooky Nook, in a rebuilt Champion Paper mill, will have more than 20 basketball courts, soccer and football fields, an indoor rock climbing wall, indoor track oval, batting cages, training staff and hotel.

“The City of Hamilton congratulates Kaiju Academy and Spooky Nook Sports on their partnership. A partnership where the term ‘world-class’ comes to mind,” said Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller. “A world-class athlete creating a world-class academy at a world-class sports complex here in Hamilton.”

“The mission of Spooky Nook Sports has always been to ‘create incredible places for people to gather, develop, play, and compete’,” Spooky Nook Sports founder and owner Sam Beiler said in a news release.

“One of our goals in Hamilton is to create this type of impact that supports local hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and a myriad of small business. The city of Hamilton has a proud history of dedication to the community, a strong and ready workforce, and we are excited to partner with them to rebuild the Champion Mill site and surrounding area.”


The Journal-News has covered every step of the giant Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill project in Hamilton, including new interviews and new photos from the site for this story. We’re committed to following the years-long project and its impact on Hamilton leading up to and following its expected December 2021 opening.

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