FORMER Itchen College student and Team Solent Kestrels player Jeremy Sochan is set to showcase his talents on the grandest stage of all later this year.

The talented 19-year-old has been selected as the ninth pick in this year's prestigious NBA Draft, chosen to play for San Antonio Spurs for the 2022-23 campaign.

Born in Oklahoma, Sochan moved to the UK aged two, living in Southampton and Milton Keynes.

During his time in England, Sochan started out as a youngster with Kestrels, returning to the side again for a spell as a teenager.

The 6ft 9in star then progressed on to OrangeAcademy in Germany, before moving back to the USA to pursue his basketball dreams, featuring for Baylor Bears in the college leagues.

His performances there earned Sochan a high-ranking draft pick, with the power forward selected by the Spurs.

The five-time NBA champions last won the title in 2014, but they struggled to a 10th-placed finish in this year's Western Conference, before losing to the New Orleans Pelicans in the play-offs.

Sochan, who also attended Bitterne Park School, is a Poland international, choosing to represent the nation of his mother's birth. She too was a professional basketball player.

He paid to fly his former Kestrels coaches, Matt Guymon and Jack O'Keeffe, as well as three former Itchen teammates out to watch the draft at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York.

In the 75-year history of the NBA, only seven players developed in the UK have played in the league.

Following the draft ceremony, Sochan: “It means so much. I've been dreaming about this for so long. I'm so excited. My heart was beating so fast. I can't wait to get there and get to work."

On being selected by the Spurs, the teenager added: "It's a team that really wants to work hard and win. They play as a team. I can't wait to fit my role there and keep them going.”

Speaking to the BBC, Sochan said: "If I wanted to do big things with basketball, I did have to leave England.

"I think my mum understood that because she played basketball as well.

"She was open to it and I know what they've had to sacrifice, but in the end I know why I'm doing it. I love my parents and I'm doing it for them as well."

Kestrels head coach Guymon said: "We were fortunate to have Jeremy with us for mini basketball and welcomed him back as a 15-year-old, where he was a particularly characteristic young man who was incredibly humble.

"We knew he was a special talent with tremendous potential, but as the year progressed we elevated him to our NBL1 team where it was clear that he was destined for the highest levels of our sport.

"We are so excited for Jeremy and his family and this new chapter. This has been his goal from the beginning and we cannot wait to see what he is able to achieve with the Spurs."

The season begins in October.