In this episode of NBA India All-Access, we welcome Pranav Prince, a student-athlete at NBA Academy India.
Prince, a 16-year-old 6-6 guard from Trivandrum, Kerala, has been at the Academy at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) since May of 2018. He was one among eight ACG-NBA Jump winners to be selected as the second batch of student-athletes at the Academy.
Welcome the newest recruits from #ACGNBAJump to the #NBAAcademy India.- NBAIndia (@NBAIndia) June 18, 2018
Hope you have a ballin' time!
(L-R, Standing) Pranav Prince, Abhi Joshi, Pritish Kokate, Aryan Kumar, Harsh Dagar, Lalhnepuia Chhakchuak, Akshatbir Singh, and Lokendra Singh. pic.twitter.com/ke9lrU1Tc4
Since then, under the watchful eyes of the coaches at NBA Academy India, he has shown tremendous growth in his game which has resulted in him winning multiple tournament MVP awards and selections to global development camps over the course of 2019.
As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, we spoke with Prince (in April 2020) over various topics related to the Academy, his game, and his experiences around the world in 2019. Here's how the conversation went:
NBA.com: As we speak, India is in Week 5 of the nation-wide lockdown. How have you been dealing with it mentally and of course, trying to stay fit and in-shape?
Pranav Prince: So, there have been a few workouts given by the NBA Academy. For strengthening, we have some workouts and a few drills like dribbling, so, I'm doing it in my home. That's how I'm staying fit.
NBA.com: In May 2020, you would have completed two years at the Academy, can you share with us what the entire experience over the past couple of years have been like?
Prince: The NBA Academy has taught me everything.
MORE: Prince named Team MVP in NBA Academy India's Stage II trip to Hungary
I have improved everything on-the-court as well as off-the-court. Off-the-court, it's been my leadership, my speaking to others, how to respect coaches and others. Like for us, the Chefs cook for us, so we give respect like when we finish our food, we go and shake their hands and thank them. Like that, we learn to respect everyone.
It's not only about basketball in the NBA Academy, but it's also about all-round development.
#NBAAcademy India stars Pranav Prince and Robin Banerjee put their culinary skills to the test with NBA Global Academy Player Development coach Robin McKinlay as the guest judge.- NBAIndia (@NBAIndia) April 27, 2020
Vote for your favorite dish in the comments 👇@ACGWorld pic.twitter.com/xepmcVnlfa
If you take gamewise, they are giving us exposure. We are going around the world and competing against the top teams in the world. So, that means a lot. We can improve overselves, as a player, we can realise the mistakes we commit and what are the areas we need to improve.
So, it's a good platform for basketball players to improve their game.
NBA.com: Specifically, in your game, where did you feel you improved the most at the Academy?
Prince: I was very skinny when I went to the Academy. In the weight room, I worked a lot with Coach Todd [Gates] and the support staff helped me a lot. Now, he's not in the Academy, he left this year and next year, he's not going to come back.
I worked out a lot with him and everything improved but mostly my driving capacity and passing improved. And shooting too.
NBA.com: From getting a chance to meet Dwyane Wade to being the only Indian to be selected for the Global Academy Development Camp in November in Australia, can you share a little bit about all of your best experiences from 2019?
Prince: 2019 started with the trip to New York and I had a chance to meet Dwyane Wade. So, it was like a dream-come-true moment.
Following @MiamiHEAT/@nyknicks tonight, @DwyaneWade met with the #NBAAcademy Select Team!- Jr. NBA (@jrnba) January 28, 2019
The 3x @NBA champion is a #JrNBAGlobalChampionship Ambassador, and the Select Team includes 3 players that participated in year one. #ThisIsWhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/vAHyJ0I1gx
Then, I came back and was selected to the Indian team [U-16] as the captain. Then, we went back to the Academy and some of us went to the Academy Games that were held in Atlanta. So, I got a good chance to perform well there.
MORE: Pranav Prince captains India to U-16 SABA Gold in July 2019
Then, we came back and had a tournament in the Academy, I was MVP there. Next, we had the EYBL tournament [in Hungary], so I was MVP there.
Then, we again had a tournament in the Academy, so again, I was the MVP. Then, I went to Australia which was unforgettable. The whole 2019 was great. I thank every coach and staff for giving me this opportunity. They worked hard with me so that I can improve and they pushed me to give my 100% every time.
NBA.com: Could you tell us a little bit more about the experience in Australia where you were at the NBA Global Academy for a four-day Development Camp which included Academy prospects from around the world? You also got to watch LaMelo Ball playing live in the NBL, correct, what was that like?
Prince: The NBA Global Academy is a dream for NBA Academy players. I had a chance to play there, so, and it was not only me but the top 23 prospects around the world.
It was a great experience and, as a player, I got to know what should I improve and what are my weaknesses. I also got to know what I'm strong at and the difference between Australia and India is the intensity.
The NBL game was awesome. We got a chance to see LaMelo Ball and how they play, their aggression, and so forth. So, it was great.
NBA.com: Last question, how did you start playing basketball, and what's the ultimate goal after the Academy?
Prince: My father is almost 6 feet tall, so he has a friend who is also a professional basketball player in Kerala. So, he asked my father "Does your son have height?" and my father said yes.
His friend told "ask him to play basketball" and that's how I started playing basketball. My future plan is to get into a D-1 college in the US, and of course, the ultimate goal is to be in the NBA.
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