Dera Baba Nanak is a village and tehsil headquarter in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. The town with a population of less than 20,000 has a few volleyball courts and its youngsters usually dream of excelling in that sport. The town does not have a single basketball court. However, soon a 19-year-old from the village will be playing in the development wing of the World’s most popular basketball league.
Princepal Singh, the starry-eyed kid from Dera Baba Nanak village, has signed to play in the NBA G-League, the National Basketball Association’s official minor league, in 2020-21.
The 6’10” forward, who will train and compete alongside the new G League team featuring elite youth prospects, is the first NBA Academy graduate to sign with the NBA G League and first NBA Academy India graduate to sign a professional contract; it was announced by NBA G-League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer Princepal the opportunity to begin his professional basketball journey in the NBA G League,” Abdur-Rahim was quoted as saying by the NBA on Tuesday. “We’ve long hoped that our development pathway for elite high school players would include roster spots for emerging international talent, including players who have participated in the NBA Academy program, and we’re excited to have Princepal forge this new path and develop his skills in our league.”
During his time in the NBA Academy program in India and Australia, Princepal participated in several high-profile international basketball events, including Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia 2018, BWB Global 2018 and the NBA Global Camp 2018. He also represented India in international competitions as part of the Indian men’s senior national team.
The NBA G League gives top young prospects a chance to begin their professional careers while receiving mentorship and life-skills training. According to the NBA by honing the G-League Princepal will have the opportunity to accelerate his on-court development alongside top high school recruits from the class of 2020 Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix, Kai Sotto and Jonathan Kuminga who have signed to play in the NBA G League for the 2020-21 season. Five-time NBA champion Brian Shaw will serve as head coach of their team, which will be unaffiliated with any existing NBA G League franchise or NBA team, the NBA announced in a release on Tuesday,
Princepal, who was weaned away from volleyball at the age of 14 by the coaches of the Punjab Basketball Association and trained at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy under legendary Indian coach Dr S Subramaniam, will be the third Indian player after Satnam Singh Bhamara and Amjyot Singh, to play in the NBA G-League. Satnam, the first Indian to be selected through the NBA Draft, played two seasons for Texas Legends – the affiliate of Dallas Mavericks – from 2015 to 17, while Amjyot played for Wisconsin Herd in 2018-19 season. Palpreet Singh was drafted by Long Island Nets in 2016 but could not make the final roster. Sim Bhullar, a Canadian national of Indian descent, played for Reno Bighorns and Raptors 905 for couple of seasons in the NBA developmental league. He is also the first player of Indian origin to play in a regular-season NBA game when he played for Sacramento Kings on a 10-day contract in November 2015.
Princepal, who was with the NBA Global Academy till January this year before he came back on a break and could not rejoin because of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, is currently in India waiting for the Global Academy programme to restart.
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