If you aren't familiar with the name Pranav Prince, it's time to get acquainted.
"The ultimate goal is to be in the NBA," NBA Academy India student-athlete Pranav Prince said in an exclusive chat with NBA.com/India back in April.
In the few months since that statement, the 17-year-old is one step closer to achieving that goal. At mid-day on August 17th, it was announced that Prince had signed up with the First Love Christian Academy - a private high school in Washington, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
He became the second male student-athlete from the NBA Academy India after Jagshaanbir Singh to get a high-school basketball scholarship in the U.S.
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First of all i want to thank God for blessing me with this talent. I am beyond excited to take the next step in my career and i am beyond excited to announce that i have commited with first love Christian academy @firstlovehoops . I really want to thank @nbaacademy and coaches @scottwflemming @drillkiller @veganstrengthcoach @marcpulles @jvandescure @shivaraj_kumar13 @xavier.manoj @premkiddo I won't be here without you guys Next i want to thank my parents @princej478 and my friends who always motivated me and helped me. And all thanks to where it all began St Joseph's HSS and @xavier.manoj And a big thanks to reliance Jr NBA foundation and ACG NBA jump @acgworldwide #TheLoveway
"My parents were really really proud," Prince said in an exclusive with NBA.com India just hours after the announcement. "They never imagined that I will go this far in basketball."
Focused & Determined
"When I got the scholarship, I was happy like everybody would be happy when they hear good news but I started preparing for my next stage, that is, D-1 scholarship."
Prince's journey under the NBA's development program in India began when he participated in the 2016-17 Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program. The following year, in 2018, he was one among eight selected to be part of the Academy's second class of student-athletes identified through the ACG-NBA Jump program.
In his first year at the state-of-the-art facility in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), Prince impressed the coaches with his work ethic.
In May of 2019, Scott Flemming, former head coach of the Indian senior men's basketball team, took over as the new Technical Director of NBA Academy India.
"I saw early on that he had a high upside," Flemming told NBA.com India on his first impression of Prince. "He not only demonstrated to me that he was a gifted athlete, but he showed he had the kind of attitude and approach to keep improving."
"Our S & C (Strength and Conditioning) Coach, Todd Gates, did a tremendous job of building him up. He needs to continue to grow in this area."
Setting an example
While Prince embarks on a path that very few Indian basketball prospects have travelled, the 17-year-old from Trivandrum, Kerala, wants to set an example for younger kids in India that will come after him.
"I think I can set a great example for the young players in India, of course, in our Academy too because I'm very skinny and don't have that much power but 'if you work hard and if you really believe in yourself, you can make that."
After working on his physique during his first year at the Academy, the 6'6" guard started showing results during the latter half of 2019.
He led the NBA Academy India squad in scoring and rebounding and was named Team MVP in Stage 1 of the Euro Youth Basketball League in Hungary in September 2019.
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Congratulations to Pranav Prince for averaging 16pts and 6.3rbs and winning team MVP at @eybl_ce Stage 1 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 - "Travelling to Hungary and playing with some of the best teams in Europe was a really great experience. I am looking forward to my team's success in the next stage of the tournament! In the next stage, we will need to be more consistent on both sides of the court and it is important to win every possession. We need to be mentally prepared. Stay focused for 40 minutes." - #NBAAcademy India's Pranav Prince 🇮🇳
A couple of months later, he was one of 23 Academy prospects from 15 countries selected to participate in the NBA Global Academy Development Camp in Australia.
In January 2020, when the Academy participated in Stage II of the Euro Youth Basketball League in Hungary, he was named Team MVP once again.
"His length, athleticism and his ability to get to the rim stand out," Flemming says talking about Prince's growth. "His perimeter shooting and his defence are areas that are steadily improving. Coach Ron Cass, our Player Development coach, has played a significant role in his improvement."
At the height of the COVID-19-forced lockdown in India, in May, he was asked to join the NBA Basketball School's group call, to share all of his experiences with younger kids.
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Pranav was the last #NBAAcademy India athlete to share his experience with young players from #NBABasketballSchool India 🇮🇳 in their online session! Follow @indiaontrack_iot for more information and to register for the #NBABasketballSchool India 🇮🇳 online basketball sessions!
" It wasn't pressure but it was a very proud moment," he adds. "Setting an example is not a small thing, it's a big thing especially in a sport where India is not that ahead."
Ready for culture change
Shifting base halfway across the world isn't easy, let alone for teenagers but Prince believes he is already prepared and credits the Academy for that.
"Here's where the NBA Academy played a major role," he shares.
"They already adapted us from Indian culture to the US culture, where the basketball culture is very different. Of course, you need to learn off-the-court culture as well because they can't teach you that but they already started preparing us for the culture."
A believer in 'hard work bears fruit', Prince seems to understand the job ahead and looks forward to continuing to learn new things.
"I'm already prepared and I'll try to learn new things when I go there."
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