Dream dunk: Meet Princepal Singh, an NBA Academy graduate from Punjab who has signed to play in the elite NBA G League next season

19-year old Princepal Singh has most recently been selected to participate in the prestigious NBA G-league and will be trained by five-time NBA coach and champion Brian Shaw.

NBA Academy graduate Princepal Singh, is a 6ft 10in forward from Punjab, India, who has signed to play in the NBA G League next season. This information was announced recently by NBA G League President, Shareef Abdur-Rahim

At just 19 years old, Princepal will train and compete in the new G League team featuring elite youth prospects from around the world.  

Princepal is the first NBA Academy India graduate to sign with the NBA G League and the first NBA Academy India graduate to sign a professional contract. 

Basketball Player and Athlete Princepal Singh.

Princepal first started playing basketball at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, and joined the prestigious NBA Academy India in 2017, an elite basketball training centre in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).

He was part of the academy’s inaugural class of top student athletes identified through the ACG-NBA Jump Programme

In November 2018, Princepal transitioned to The NBA Global Academy – the league’s hub for top male and female prospects from outside the U.S. – in Canberra, Australia, where he continued his development before graduating this spring.   

Throughout his time in the NBA Academy programme, Princepal participated in several high-profile international basketball events, including Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia 2018, BWB Global 2018 and the NBA Global Camp 2018. 

He also represented India in international competitions as part of the Indian Men’s Senior National Team.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer Princepal the opportunity to begin his professional basketball journey in the NBA G League,” said Abdur-Rahim. 
“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 programme and basketball in India,” said NBA Vice President and Head of International Basketball Development Troy Justice. 

The NBA G League provides top young athletes a chance to begin their professional careers while receiving mentorship and life-skills training. 

Princepal Singh will have the opportunity to accelerate his on-court development alongside top high school recruits from the class of 2020 like Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix, Kai Sotto and Jonathan Kuminga who have signed to play in the NBA G League for the 2020-21 season. 

Brian Shaw, who won three consecutive NBA Championships with the Lakers between 2000-02 as a player and two more as a coach, will serve as head coach of their team, which will be unaffiliated with any existing NBA G League franchise or NBA team.

In an exclusive interview with YSWeekender Princepal Singh, talks about how he discovered his love for basketball, what made him sign up to the NBA Academy in India, and how he successfully made it to the NBA Global Academy and most recently, the G-League squad.

Edited excerpts from the interview...

YSW: How did your love for playing basketball start? What are some of the sports you always had a passion for growing up?

PS: I actually grew up playing volleyball, and I was first introduced to basketball when I travelled to Ludhiana to try out for a volleyball team.

Coach Jaipal Singh of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy spotted me there and introduced me to basketball. Till then, I had only watched people play the sport and that’s how my journey with basketball began.

My interest turned into passion and here I am today continuing the exciting journey.

YSW: From playing at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, what made you decide to try for the NBA Academy in India?

PS: I was picking up the sport quickly at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy. When I heard that the

ACG-NBA Jump tryouts were coming to Punjab, I decided to give it a shot.

I got shortlisted for the National Finals from the regional tryouts and eventually got selected to the NBA Academy India’s first-ever class of student-athletes.

At the Academy, I learnt something new every week, which added a different dimension to my game.

Within a year, I moved to the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia and the learning curve kept getting better and better.

Princepal Singh who started his journey at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, has reached great heights securing a spot in the prestigious NBA G-League.

YSW: What are some of the important skills/key learnings that you adopted at the NBA Academy in India that you will continue to take with you?

PS: The Academy gave me exposure like never before. The facilities, training, and competition through a global framework not only helped me grow as a player, but also as an individual too.

The NBA Academy India focuses on developing well-rounded individuals.

The NBA Academy doesn’t just focus on game skills but with a 360-degree approach, the programme focuses on education, diet, leadership, character development and life skills. All this together has really shaped me into the player that I am today.

The coaches at the NBA Academy specifically worked on my strength and rebound skills and I hope to build on that in future.

YSW: What was the feeling like when you got into the NBA Global Academy, and most recently the G League?

PS: I was very happy and excited when I heard the news about getting an opportunity to train at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I received an offer from the NBA G League because it’s a really big deal. NBA G League was always supposed to be a stepping stone for me and when it came through, I was at loss of words.

The NBA's official minor league, the G-League prepares players, coaches, officials, trainers and front office staff for the NBA while acting as the league's research and development laboratory.

YSW: How do you feel the G League will help you in your professional career as a basketball player, and what is your long-term vision/goal?

PS: NBA G League will further help me improve my skills given the pool of elite players from across the globe under the coaching of NBA champion Brian Shaw.

My aim is to build on my strengths, improve as a player and get ready for the NBA Draft in a year’s time.

YSW: Where is the training at the G League currently being held, and how has this transition been like for you?

PS: There is no confirmation on the location of our training base. But all this is nothing less than a thrilling journey.

From the time I joined the NBA Academy India, moved to the NBA Global Academy, my sole aim has been to put myself in a position where I can reach the pinnacle in the sport, i.e. the NBA.
I would like to believe that the G League selection is a reward for all the efforts and the right platform to take me to the next level.

He is working hard towards unleashing his full potential and reaching a pinnacle in basketball.

YSW: Who were some of your sporting icons and inspirations growing up, and who are they now?

PS: When I was training at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, Palpreet Singh used to play there and I really admired his game. In fact, he was also drafted by a G League team and he did share what to expect from the training and competition in the U.S.

YSW: Under the guidance of the G League what are some of the upcoming international tournaments and exhibition games you look forward to participating in?

PS: I am very excited about getting an opportunity to train and play with the G League Select team. But for now, the schedule hasn’t been drawn out, so it’s all just adding to the excitement.

YSW: An international destination you would like to visit, and a basketball player you would love to meet?

PS: If I get the chance, I would like to meet and watch Anthony Davis play. (Anthony Davis is a star with the LA Lakers and is currently playing in the NBA Playoffs at Orlando, FL)
A destination I would like to visit is New York City to sense the vibe of the city and meet the Punjabis there.

Princepal believes there are no short cuts to success and you need to work hard and be determined when it comes to the game.

YSW: What is your advice to those wishing to undertake the training you underwent, and achieve their goal of being a professional full-time basketball player?

PS: There is no substitute for hard work and hard work never goes unrewarded.

If you are serious about basketball, keep an eye out on all things that the NBA is doing in this country.

They are leaving no stone unturned for the development of basketball in India, be it at the grassroots level through Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA or elite talent development through the ACG-NBA Jump and The NBA Academy India.

YSW: With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disrupting our lifestyle, how do you feel this is affecting athletes globally? And a message to those struggling to cope?

PS: Being an athlete, I have always tried to not lose focus from the goals I set for myself. Even at home, I was always looking for ways to stay physically and mentally fit.

At the same time, I ensured I maintained social distancing guidelines laid down by the authorities and followed the routine provided by the NBA Academy.

My message to everyone is to be patient, work hard and don’t lose focus.

YSW: What do you enjoy doing most on the weekend when not playing basketball or undergoing training?

PS: Usually, I visit my friends during my rest period. Otherwise, I really like to listen to Punjabi music during my free time and sometimes, I go and work on the farm too.

(Picture Credits: NBA Academy)

Edited by Asha Chowdary


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