Just one year after having learnt the nuances of playing basketball, 15-year-old Prince Pal Singh has been selected to play in the US. An electrician’s son, Prince has earned a scholarship worth $75,000 (Rs 50 Lakh) for the period from July 2016 to September 2019. His selection was facilitated at an open selection trial conducted recently by the Delhi Public School, Rajnandgaon, and with support from Schools Games Federation of India (SGFI) at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Training Centre.
This windfall for Prince could be attributed to the Satnam factor which has seen the game soar in popularity in various parts of Punjab. When Satnam Singh Bhamara took a giant leap by becoming the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA in the US in June 2015, he made thousands of Punjab players walk tall, raising the hopes of every young hoopster. No wonder, Prince too idolises Satnam. “I wish to become like Satnam,” Prince told The Times Of India after being named as the best prospect in the four-day trials.
After a three-year training stint, Prince stands a chance to play in the NCAA College League — a prelude to the NBA. Prince was picked by Spire Institute, one of the America’s premier sports academies, a $1 billion facility where the USA Olympic team trains, and is becoming known as a top recruitment ground for NCAA coaches.
The only expenditure Prince and his family is likely to bear is the travelling and visa fees to America. Having picked Prince ahead of a handful of national campers and other experienced players, Russell explained, “The level of athleticism that Prince has, standing 6-foot-7 at 15 years impressed me the most. Similarly, scouts at the Spire Academy felt that he is likely to reach 7-foot plus and with the world class training in US, Prince is likely to get signed for a top 25 NCAA programme in three years.” At the Ludhiana Academy, Prince is being trained by Devinder Dhindsa.