In this edition of NBA India All-Access, we would like to welcome Sanjana Ramesh.
Sanjana's first claim to fame was when she captained India's U16 Girls squad to an undefeated campaign in Division B of the FIBA U16 Asia Cup, earning the nation a promotion to Division A in the tournament's next edition.
Sanjana also participated in The NBA Academies Women's Program camp in May at The NBA Academy India in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). Following that, in the Basketball Without Borders Asia camp, a three-day basketball development camp featuring the top male and female basketball prospects from throughout Asia, Sanjana was named MVP of the girls' division.
With plenty of achievements to show for in the girls' division of Indian Basketball, Sanjana had certainly earned her way to this scholarship.
She is now only the second Indian-born female player to receive a Division I Basketball Scholarship.
As she trains and prepares to begin her journey in college basketball, Sanjana took some time to speak NBA.com/India.
Yash Matange: With the NAU scholarship, you have put yourself on the map as an inspiration for younger girls and boys to take up basketball. Could you tell us how your family and friends reacted after you signed the letter of intent with the college?
Sanjana Ramesh: My family was very excited and happy. They obviously knew about it before it went down but we did celebrate by going out for a family dinner.
My friends, however, lost their minds. I had to keep it under wraps till it was announced so they were very surprised when the news came out. They were shocked but very happy for me.
Matange: Is it possible for you to share a few details on how the college got in touch with you and where they saw your game, and so on?
Sanjana: Everything at the BWB (Basketball Without Borders) camp and the Women's camp at NBA's India Academy was recorded. I think the coaches at these camps sent clips to few colleges in the United States.
Most of the colleges had found out about it when I was named MVP of the BWB camp. So, that's how the process began.
This is Sanjana Ramesh & this is why she plays.#NBAAcademy pic.twitter.com/nmZTv9f6r4- NBAIndia (@NBAIndia) February 5, 2019
Matange: You have now been part of multiple camps. Could you give the readers an insight into the routine each day and what are the drills that are most focused on?
Sanjana: Basically, we work on our fundamentals. A lot of shooting and dribbling drills.
Afterward, we separate the guards and the forwards. While the guards practice a lot of dribbling and shooting, the forwards work on their post moves.
Following that, they make teams of both guards and forwards. The fun part is that these are named after the WNBA teams, for example, this time it was the Seattle Storm and the Minnesota Lynx.
On the last day, we have the championship game between the two teams that have won the most rounds/drills over the previous three/four days. That marks the end of the camp, so we have the awards ceremony where various awards are handed to the deserving candidates.
Matange: We ask this to almost everybody who speaks with NBA.com/India. How did your basketball story begin?
Sanjana: I tried out for my school team and that was the first time I properly started playing basketball. I tried out for my school team since there wasn't any soccer or badminton.
I know it's a stupid story but basketball also starts with a B so I tried out for my school and from the first practice, I fell in love with the game.
Matange: Is there anything you can tell us about your schedule ahead, especially with regards to when you begin at NAU?
Sanjana: So, I'll have an official visit to NAU in April and then I would only return to the United States in July. There, I can start my summer course and begin practicing with the team.
The actual season begins in September, so, I'll be there earlier to do internships, get extra credits and practice with the team. That's my starting plan.
Matange: Over the course of the past year, through various multiple camps, you have met multiple national team players - men and women. What questions do you generally ask them when you meet them?
Sanjana: It's usually about their struggles and how they got through it, how they started playing basketball and how they are always working on their game. They are so experienced and they have thought me so many aspects of basketball that I never thought I would have learned.
Like Raspreet di, she thought me how to shoot. From Shireen di, I learned about court vision and even Amjyot Singh. He is a very versatile player and I think that's how I play as well.
All of them have thought me a lot and I would like to take all of it to the next chapter of my life.
Matange: You mentioned Raspreet Sidhu and Shireen Limaye. Has there been an Indian women's basketball player who was an inspiration for you from the beginning?
Sanjana: All of them are huge inspirations but when I first saw the women's team, I saw Jeena di. She's very humble and comes off as such a good role model for juniors. She is very supportive and a really good leader.
Matange: January has been a huge month for Indian basketball, highlights by the achievements of girls and women. We also had NBA Champion Rashard Lewis come down and conduct a couple of basketball clinics. As someone who has benefitted through these camps (at the Academy), could you share their significance?
Sanjana: I feel it's really important, especially for girls. In India, they don't really look at sports as a career option. So legends of the game and NBA Champions coming down here, does light a fire.
So, these clinics are important because I didn't look at a Division I scholarship before the NBA Academy Camp.
Matange: Your current and favourite player all-time - NBA and WNBA?
Sanjana: In the WNBA, it's Sue Bird or Diana Taurasi.
In the NBA, it's LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan.
Matange: Your favourite sneakers?
Sanjana: The LeBron soldiers. I do have a few ankle issues, so, I feel these really provide good support for that.