With the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season, there are several storylines for basketball fanatics all over the world to follow. However, fans in India have an additional reason to be excited. Princepal Singh, the 19-year-old forward from Punjab, India made history recently by becoming the first NBA Academy Graduate to sign a contract with the NBA G League.
G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim and NBA Vice President, Head of International Basketball Development, Troy Justice were available to give us an idea of what the future possibly holds for Princepal Singh.
Abdur-Rahim started off by addressing the efforts that the youngster has put in during his time with the NBA Academies.
"His [Princepal Singh] hard work has brought him to this point so we're really excited for him. He's a tremendous young man with an incredibly bright future."
Justice began by addressing the year-on-year improvement that Princepal Singh has shown and how that's a telling sign for a youngster like him.
"Princepal has an incredible opportunity in front of him. Now three years he's been working for this through the NBA Academy and every year we've seen incredible growth. He has really improved year on year...his fundamentals, his skills, his athleticism, his strength. Just his ability as a basketball player to continue to get better is a great sign for his future."
Princepal Singh will join the NBA Select Team which is owned by the league itself and not associated with any NBA franchise. President Shareef explained the objectives of this team and how it will function.
"This group won't play 50 games in the G League. We will focus on the development, skill-building on and off the court, it will be a program that will help the players grow, they will have the opportunity to play international games outside the league."
He added that the select team not being associated with any franchise allows the league to focus on the needs of each individual player and formulate a program accordingly.
Princepal Singh's growth at NBA Global Academy
The conversation quickly moved back to Princepal Singh. Troy Justice delved into the leap that he has taken during his time at the NBA Global Academy in Australia.
"First of all, Princepal is 6 feet 10 inches. He has some incredible natural instincts and skills that you can't teach. He has got high basketball IQ, he has got athleticism... When he first came in, he was pretty singular in his approach, he could do one or two things pretty good. But now the coaches have helped him to open up his game. He can play with his back to the basket, he can play facing up, he can play short corner, and he can play from the free-throw line. Now, he has a wide range of aspects in his game. He is capable of executing various skills, which he has learned in training, in a match situation against top-level players."
Given that the NBA is increasingly headed towards positionless basketball, it's reaffirming to hear that Princepal Singh has a wide repertoire of skills and that he can compete from everywhere on the court.
Possibility of attracting scouts' attention
We've seen several players on affiliated G League teams being called up to join the roster of the parent franchise. That will not be the case for the select team that Princepal Singh will be a part of. Players on this team are on a one-year contract and will have the opportunity to be picked during the 2021 NBA Draft.
Abdur-Rahim explained that the players will have the attention of scouts with an opportunity to impress them in the lead up to the eventual draft next year.
"I know that there will be unbelievable scouting opportunities with this team, not only the games but even the practices. With this team, Princepal will be with several other highly talented prospects who are expected to go high in the 2021 NBA Draft. This is a team that all our NBA teams are aware of and are excited about. This team will get a significant amount of interest, much or more than any other team because these are young players who will be headed towards the NBA Draft."
Given the plaudits he's received for his efforts thus far and the opportunities that have followed, Princepal Singh looks set to embark on a long journey in the world of basketball. His goal of playing in the NBA is in sight, so don't be surprised if he makes exponential strides in the near future.