Basketball and India

Through the Lens: Landmark moments from Princepal Singh's 2020-21 G League season with Ignite

Courtesy of Princepal Singh, the 2021 NBA G League season was keenly followed by Indian-origin fans across the world.

Each game, thousands across the world would check-in to see if the 20-year-old from Gurdaspur, Punjab would crack the team's rotation to make his debut or record his first-ever points in the G League.

Singh had been selected as part of the league's all-new Ignite squad, a first-of-its-kind team dedicated to developing top young prospects from across the world in preparation for the NBA Draft. The deal made him the first NBA Academy graduate to sign with the NBA G League and the first NBA Academy India graduate to sign a professional contract.

With the condensed 2021 season in the books, here's a look at the most notable and memorable moments from Singh's campaign with the Ignite.

#Princepal
Princepal Singh (NBA Getty Images)

01 Landing in the Bubble

Six months after the announcement of Singh's deal with the Ignite, the 6-foot-9 forward arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida for the condensed 15-game season.

Joining the team bubble in Walnut Creek California in October, Singh was among the last of the young players to join the squad. While he also left their bubble in November for the Window 2 of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, he made a strong impression on head coach Brian Shaw.

MORE: Shaw calls Singh 'Most Improved' among Ignite prospects

Making the team's rotation was going to be difficult but there was history on the line. Seeing some court time would have made Singh only the third Indian-born player ever after Satnam Singh Bhamara and Amjyot Singh Gill to play in the NBA's official development league.

#Princepal
Princepal Singh (NBA Getty Images)

02 Content Day

After three days in quarantine, the Ignite held "content day." Along with his young teammates, Singh posed for the cameras in the team's official Stock X sponsored game day jerseys.

He originally picked No. 15, a number that's on jerseys available under his name on sale at NBA G League's online store, but later changed to No. 12.

"Here, my number was No. 15 at first, but Amir [Johnson] wanted it and so I said no problem," Singh shared in an exclusive with NBA.com.

Singh changed to No. 12 because it was the number worn for the national team by his inspiration, Palpreet Singh Brar.

Palpreet was the winner of the inaugural "ACG-NBA Jump," a nation-wide three-month-long talent hunt in 2016 for India's best male basketball player in the age range of 18-22. That earned him a chance in D-League tryout with coaching and assistance to prepare for the 2016 D-League Draft.

MORE: On the rebound: India's first NBA G-League Draftee Palpreet Singh Brar

He was subsequently picked by the Long Island Nets with the 80th overall pick. However, he was cut after training camp before the season's final roster was announced.

#Princepal
Princepal Singh (NBA Getty Images)

03 First practice in the Bubble

After the three days of quarantine, the Ignite squad also got to practice and scrimmage a few times on what would eventually be the game court at the AdventHealth Arena.

With photographers on the ready at the arena and a couple of practices available to the media on stream, it gave some of the Indian media back home their first glimpse of Singh training with the squad.

Questions about Singh were asked to Ignite veterans Amir Johnson and Jarrett Jack leading up to the season-opener. Both NBA veterans didn't disappoint, sharing personal experiences with Singh. Johnson called him a "workhorse" while sharing stories of their time together in the weight room. Jack believed Singh was "too unselfish at times" but applauded him for how he was adjusting.

"Coming into this situation with the language barrier and still being able to go out there and compete is amazing," Jack said. "If the shoe was on the other foot, I don't know how on earth I would be able to do that."

#Princepal
Princepal Singh (NBA Getty Images)

04 Debut

In the Ignite's season-opener against the Santa Cruz Warriors, they led by 19 early in the fourth quarter. A blowout could have seen Singh make his debut in the team's first game, but the Warriors made a comeback before eventually losing by five.

While Singh's debut had to wait, he wasn't disappointed.

"I didn't think anything like that [chance for debut if game was blowout]," Singh shared in an exclusive with NBA.com. "I just wanted the team to win, they are my focus."

After four games, Singh finally saw some minutes against the Erie Bayhawks, checking in for the game's final 7:49.

Not only did he become the third-Indian ever to log minutes in a G League game and first since Amjyot Singh in 2019, he also became the first-ever NBA Academy Alumni to check-in to a G League game.

Singh finished with two rebounds. He came close to scoring his first points but went scoreless, failing to convert his lone field goal attempt and his lone free-throw attempt - a technical late in the game.

MORE: Head coach Brian Shaw relates interesting career stories to Singh

#Princepal
Princepal Singh (NBA Getty Images)

05 First points

Nine days after his debut, the Indian didn't see any court time.

Finally, against the Salt Lake City Stars - the Ignite's 10th game of the season - Singh subbed-in once again. This time he made sure to record his first career G League bucket.

Off a bounce pass from teammate Daishen Nix, Singh rolled to the rim and slammed it home for his first career G League points. Less than a couple of minutes later, as the game clock was winding down, he nailed a buzzer-beating 3.

Once again, the two field goals helped Singh make history. He became only the third Indian to score in the G League after Satnam Singh Bhamara and Amjyot Singh Gill.

#Princepal
Princepal Singh's custom sneakers (image courtesy: Princepal/Instagram) (NBA Getty Images)

06 Custom sneakers

At the end of the condensed 15-game season, the Ignite punched their ticket to the playoffs with a huge 127-92 win in their final regular-season game.

Singh checked-in towards the end and finished with four points and one rebound in what would be his fourth appearance of the season.

A day later, the young team's season came to an end in a 127-102 loss to the top-seeded Raptors 905.

As their stay on the campus neared its end, Singh took to Instagram to show off the customized sneakers he had received.

He showed support to the Farmers protests back home in India by having "No Food, No Farmers" inked on the sneaker.

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