Princepal Singh, the 6'10'' 'giant' from Punjab, became the first NBA Academy India graduate to be signed for NBA G League next season. The 19-year-old is understandably gushing at the prospect of making his mark on the global stage that is US' National Basketball Association (NBA).
“I very happy and feeling extremely proud. I had got the news beforehand from the NBA and when I told my family they were very happy and when they officially announced as well they were really proud of me,” Princepal Singh told News18 in an exclusive interview.
Princepal will be the third Indian after Satnam Singh and Amjyot Singh Gill to play in NBA's G-League. Satnam was selected by the Dallas Mavericks as the 52nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was acquired by the Texas Legends, the G-League. Amjyot plays for the Wisconsin Herd after being undrafted in 2014. Palpreet Singh Brar was listed in the 2016 NBA draft but remains unpicked.
With the NBA G-League starting tentatively in November, Princepal is eager to get the ball rolling. He has been training with weights and keeping himself fit when eventually the restrictions due to the pandemic ease and he can fly to the United States.
"I am currently at home and am working out, doing a bit of weight training, and will keep myself ready," Princepal said.
When he looks back at his journey from fields where he played Volleyball as a teenager in his village of Qadian Gujjran, which is near the India-Pakistan border, to rubbing shoulders with the world's best, Princepal says he doesn't know where time flew by.
As a nearly 6'4'' fourteen-year-old, Princepal was scouted by the Ludhiana Basketball Academy during volleyball trials. He was picked up by NBA Academy India as part of the ACG-NBA Jump Program in 2017, from where he was subsequently sent to their Global Academy in Canberra, Australia.
As for the NBA G-League, Princepal wants to learn more from his stint and gain experience from the coaches there. He will play alongside the likes of Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix, Kai Sotto and Jonathan Kuminga and Five-time NBA champion Brian Shaw will be their head coach.
During his time at the NBA Academy program, Princepal took part in several high-profile international basketball events, including Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia 2018, BWB Global 2018, and the NBA GlobalCamp 2018. Princepal also represented India in International competitions as part of the Indian Men's Senior National Team and was part of the team that defeated Iraq at the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
He has been in touch with Palpreet, who has guided him so far in his journey and Princepal expects the number of players from India to go play in the NBA to rise exponentially.
When asked about his academy mates and their chances of making it to the NBA, Princepal says: "There are some really good players in the academy and they can surely go and play in the US."
Princepal echoed Indian men's National Team Captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, who had recently said that Indian needs a professional league which will give players an opportunity to prosper.
"There should be a league in India and it is really important for players here to get 'next level' basketball experience from players who'll come from abroad," Princepal said.
The basketball brand has been making steadfast growth in the country with the NBA India Games, which were held in Mumbai, as Sacramento Kings faced -off against Indiana Pacers is the first-ever NBA game played in India back in October.
Princepal feels the sport is on the rise in India and in the coming months and years will only grow in popularity.
"Basketball is definitely on the up in India and I am sure it will become a craze in the times to come," he said. As for him personally, he is looking forward to the NBA experience. "I want to learn more from my experience in NBA and come back to help others," added Princepal Singh.