Basketball and India

Princepal Singh's Summer League debut with Sacramento Kings is a giant leap for Indian basketball

With his path-breaking journey over the past few years, Princepal Singh has reached a number of milestones in Indian Basketball history.

On Wednesday, Aug. 11 (IST), the 20-year-old became only the second Indian ever and the first since Satnam Singh in 2017 to feature in the NBA Summer League at Las Vegas.

He checked in for the final 1:22 of the team's second Summer League game, which was a comfortable 89-75 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Suiting up for the Sacramento Kings, Singh's debut also made him the first-ever NBA Academy India graduate to feature in a Summer League game. The franchise had retained him for the Las Vegas Summer League after first including him in their squad for the California Classic Summer League games in Sacramento a week earlier.

A giant leap for Indian Basketball

While he didn't record a point, rebound or assist in his brief time on the court, Singh's debut is a monumental step for Indian Basketball.

"He is an inspiration for all of us - youth basketball players," NBA Academy India student-athlete Lokendra Singh said of him.

While the NBA Academy India has assisted six former student-athletes getting scholarships to prep school and D-1 colleges in North America since its inception in 2017, Singh's trailblazing stints are making a tremendous impact as well.

"He is showing that India has players that can, you know, perform on a higher level," Pritish Kokate, a recent NBA Academy India graduate, said in an exclusive with NBA.com in January this year.

His footsteps in various parts of the world do more than just re-write history books.

"Yeah, we do have conversations like that, only about how is the game? What is the competition like to play in the G League, where all the 16-year-olds who are not attempting to go to college but directly go to the G League and then attempting to get a contract in NBA?"

"So that too because of him, now we know that the G League also helps teenagers to get one step closer to the NBA."

Regardless of the minutes he plays, Singh's time in Summer League is sending back valuable feedback to his Academy teammates, who are the next line of aspiring Indians looking to break into the NBA.

In his step-by-step rise, Singh has gone to the G League and now the Summer League. Will the NBA be next? Only time will tell.

Result of sacrifice and offseason work

The Summer League debut for Singh was his first taste of a competitive scrimmage in a professional atmosphere since his stint with the G League Ignite ended in March this year.

His selection and minutes are the results of his hard work and sacrifice for the better part of the last five months. His work ethic was a trait that Ignite head coach Brian Shaw praised and talked about repeatedly.

While he remained back in the United States after his contract with the Ignite ended to put in time in the gym and on the hardwood, a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc back home.

"I stay focused by speaking to them [parents] every day over video call," Singh said, discussing how he concentrates on his workouts despite the record COVID-19 numbers coming out of India through April and May.

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That's not all. He continued clocking into the gym each morning over the summer in a country that is halfway across the globe from his homeland and predominantly communicates in a language (English) that isn't his first tongue. In this day and age of COVID-19 bubbles, Singh has showcased tremendous mental fortitude.

In India, a country whose love for basketball has grown exponentially over the past decade, there is hope that his brief Summer League debut is a sign of more things to come. While that is true, there must be an appreciation for Singh's achievement.

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