To play as professional in US has been my dream: Princepal Singh

Singh has been signed up for NBA G League—the stepping stone to NBA draft

princepal-singh Princepal Singh | Sourced image

Princepal Singh is everything that the men who set off for the US before him to realise their dreams courtesy the sport they played—basketball—were. He is 6'10'' six, part of the senior Indian men's basketball team, hails from Punjab (Gurdaspur district, Dera Baba Nanak town). And he, too, is the alumni of the now famous Ludhiana Basketball Academy, like Satnam Singh Bhamara and Amritpal Singh.

He is on his way to realise his dream of playing in the NBA eventually, having been selected to be part of the G League—the stepping stone to NBA. Singh has signed to play next season, and will train and compete alongside the new G League team featuring elite youth prospects. He is the first NBA Academy graduate to sign with the NBA G League and first NBA Academy India graduate to sign a professional contract.

The G League select contract, which offers a salary of $125,000 for the five-month season, is offered to elite players "who are eligible to play in it but not yet eligible for the NBA draft”.

He will be playing alongside and against equally talented bunch aspiring to make it eventually to the main league. He will also be able to avail off court opportunities like academic scholarships, life skills training and mentorship. For the son of an electrician, it is a huge step towards achieving his goal. Sharing his joy and happiness on being offered the G League contract, Princepal, joining via a video conference from his home in Dera Baba Nanak, said, "My whole family is very happy with this contract. All of us visited the Gurudwara to offer prayers and our thanks. It's not for the first time I am going to USA. I have attended many camps there but yes, it has been my dream to play as a professional in the US.

“I really had to work hard to make up for the gap in my training at the Ludhiana Academy and the standards that exist outside. The NBA India as well as global academy coaches really put in a lot of effort with me," he said.

Talent scouts spotted him training at the Ludhiana Academy and asked him to join the NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training centre in Noida, Uttar Pradesh for the top prospects from throughout India, as part of the academy’s inaugural class of student-athletes identified through the ACG-NBA Jump Programme, in 2017. In November 2018, Singh transitioned to the NBA Global Academy—the league’s hub for top male and female prospects from outside the US—in Canberra, Australia, where he continued his development before graduating this spring.

"The Global Academy gave me exposure to the standard of basketball outside India. I learnt how to play like international players there. The time I spent in Las Vegas, training with NBA Academy, I worked on my strength and speed," Singh said, exuding confidence of doing well at the highest level.

“We are very proud of Princepal, who has worked extremely hard to earn this opportunity as he continues to be a trailblazer for the NBA Academy program and basketball in India,” said NBA vice president, head of international basketball development, Troy Justice. “Playing in the NBA G League alongside some of the most talented up-and-coming players and under the tutelage of head coach Brian Shaw will allow Princepal to build on the foundation and framework he developed under an incredible staff of NBA Academy coaches in India and Australia over the last several years.”

Singh is not sure yet when he would be able to travel to the US due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation but is confident of aceing what lies ahead for him. Overcoming cultural barriers is not an issue for him. "I have been to US earlier a couple of times, I don't see that being any problem." On the opportunity to fulfil his contract and compete with players with a strong base and skill level, Singh said, "There is a bit of pressure to do well yes, but I will give my 100 per cent and try to make a mark for myself. "

As he awaits the chance to travel to the land of opportunities, Singh continues to train at home under the guidance of his personal trainer from the NBA Global Academy who has prepared a programme for him which he follows with dedication. With gymnasiums yet to reopen and sporting activity yet to resume even in India, he is making do with whatever he can at home. "Shane from the NBA Global Academy sends me a programme which I follow. I have equipment at home, and I even have a hoop at home. I guess the coronavirus situation in US will eventually improve. Till then, I am in touch with the G team people. I also speak to my seniors who have been overseas; they guide me a lot."


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