"Didn't expect it to happen so quickly," says India's Princepal Singh after signing NBA G League contract [Exclusive]

Princepal Singh
Princepal Singh
Raunak Jaiswal

For someone who initially wanted to try out for volleyball at the age of 14, Princepal Singh's rapid rise through the ranks as a basketball player is something to be marveled at. Princepal, now 19, signed a landmark contract with the NBA G League on Tuesday that will see him play for the NBA-select franchise in the 2020-21 season.

Princepal Singh was the only Indian player in his batch at the NBA Global Academy in Australia. He only recently graduated from there and became the first player from NBA Academy India to sign a professional contract.

Signing with the NBA G League

The quick nature of proceedings caught Princepal Singh by surprise as well as he told Sportskeeda in an exclusive conversation that he didn't expect things to materialize so quickly.

"When I came back after playing in the USA in December, I was given a slight idea that the NBA Global Academy was in talks with the NBA G League regarding a contract for me. But I didn't expect it to happen so quickly. So I was at home only when I got to know that I have been selected."

Princepal Singh will hone his craft under the tutelage of multi-time NBA Champion Brian Shaw and is hopeful of talking to him soon.

"I haven't spoken to him yet but hopefully, we'll have a few discussions soon."

Staying in the zone

The 6'10 power forward from Gurdaspur district in Punjab knows that he cannot become complacent now after signing the contract. Princepal Singh knows that he needs to maintain his strength and conditioning despite the coronavirus outbreak causing gyms to shut down throughout India. He wants to be ready whenever asked to travel to the USA so that he can give it his all.

"I'm doing weight training and running exercises at home so that whenever I'm called upon, I'm 100 percent ready and in shape to go and give my best."

He's still a teenager but Princepal Singh has a fair idea about his skillset. He has already zeroed in on a few departments where he wants to improve once he joins the team.

"The skills I want to work on are my three-point shooting, speed, and jump. My jump is good currently but I want to make it even better so that it helps me in rebounding."

Princepal Singh makes history

Princepal Singh tries to score while being heavily guarded
Princepal Singh tries to score while being heavily guarded

Princepal Singh has become the first graduate from the NBA Academy to sign with the NBA G League. While these will be new beginnings, Princepal Singh looked back at the time when he first joined the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia and how he acclimatized to the surroundings there.

"When I first joined the NBA Global Academy, the international players there more or less knew me because I had gone there to play a tournament in 2017 with NBA Academy India. Both players and the coaches helped me a lot."

Princepal Singh knows that besides his sheer talent, it's also the support and guidance of some individuals that has helped him come this far. He took the time to list out some names to whom he's eternally thankful.

"Firstly, my father has supported me a lot and he is one of the main reasons behind me becoming the player that I am today. Then there's coach Jaipal who taught me the ABC of basketball when I was at the Ludhiana Academy. I would also like to thank Mr. Teja Singh Dhaliwal who is the senior vice-president of Basketball Federation of India. There's Mr. Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal also, the local MLA, who supported me in my endeavors."

Nudged in the right direction

Princepal Singh during the Basketball Without Borders Camp in 2018
Princepal Singh during the Basketball Without Borders Camp in 2018

Interestingly, it was coach Jaipal Singh who persuaded him to take up the sport of basketball when he arrived in Ludhiana for volleyball tryouts. Eventually, Princepal Singh participated in the 2017 ACG-NBA Jump program in Ludhiana and it is during this event that he realized he could make it big in the world of basketball.

"When the ACG NBA Jump tryouts happened in Ludhiana, Coach Carlos [Barroca] told me that I'm good but I can achieve greater heights. That's when I felt that I can go a long way in basketball and eventually play in the NBA."

Princepal Singh has now become the fourth Indian to sign a contract with the NBA G League. Satnam Singh Bhamara, who was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2015, was assigned to their affiliate Texas Legends. Amjyot Singh plied his trade with the Oklahoma City Blue and then the Wisconsin Herd from 2017 to 2019. Palpreet Singh Brar was also drafted by the Long Island Nets in 2016 but unfortunately didn't get to play a game.

Speaking about whether he's received any advice from these seniors, Princepal Singh elucidated that Palpreet has been speaking to him and is confident that the youngster can do well there.

"Palpreet Singh Brar has shared his experience of being in the NBA G League with me and keeps motivating me that I can do really well there."

Princepal Singh knows that playing in the G League will do him a world of good but doesn't want to stop there. He signed off by reaffirming that playing in the NBA remains his end motive.

"At the end of the day, G League is a developmental league so the hope is to go further and play in the NBA."

We thank Princepal Singh for his time and hope that he can make a nation of over 1.3 billion citizens proud by becoming the first Indian to play in the NBA.

(Note to the reader: The conversation took place in Hindi and has been translated to English by the author)

Also read: India's Princepal Singh makes history by signing with NBA G League

Edited by Raunak Jaiswal


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