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Basketball and India

Relaxed and calm, 19-year-old Princepal Singh understands landmark G League deal is stepping stone to realizing NBA dream

Princepal Singh
(NBA Getty Images)

Ever since Princepal Singh went to the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA), for the regional tryouts of the ACG NBA Jump program in 2017, it had been his dream to play in the NBA.

With Tuesday's announcement of Singh's landmark deal with the NBA G League , the 6'10" forward is halfway to realizing his dream and he understands that.

"This is a very big deal for me," said the 19-year-old on a media conference call with journalists from India. "This would help me a lot with my development and with this deal, I could make it to the NBA."

Given the nature of his contract with the development league, he is ineligible for a "call-up" to the NBA but the year-long experience in the G League will help boost his stock massively when he possibly declares for the 2021 NBA Draft.

MORE: NBA.com's exclusive with Princepal from April 2020

If he were to realize his dream and make the leap to the NBA, he would be the first player ever from India - a country of 138 crore people - to play in the NBA. However, Singh isn't fazed.

"No, no. That's not pressure for me," he said. "I will give it my 100%. I would be carrying my experience from Australia [at the NBA Global Academy] with me, so that's not a pressure. I will give it my 100% and play freely."

By playing in the G League, Singh would be the third Indian-born player to do so after the likes of Satnam Singh [Texas Legends, 2015-17] and Amjyot Singh [Oklahoma City Blue & Wisconsin Herd, 2017-19].

However, the teenager's path to the G League is unlike any of theirs. Singh's deal with the G League makes him the first NBA Academy graduate to sign with the NBA G League and first NBA Academy India graduate to sign a professional contract.

This path wasn't easy but he kept at it.

"[In 2017] the road to this dream was long," Singh adds.

"It took a lot of hard work. First at the LBA, then with the coaches at NBA India [Academy]. They worked a lot on me and then I worked really hard at the NBA Global Academy. So, the road was long and it took a lot of time."

Graduating in the spring of 2020 from the NBA Global Academy, Singh was under the NBA Academy program for a total of three years.

He spent the first 1.5 years at the NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), and then spent the next 1.5 years at The NBA Global Academy - the league's hub for top male and female prospects from outside the U.S. - in Canberra, Australia.

Image above: Princepal Singh at his farewell at The NBA Academy India in October of 2018 before he left for the NBA Global Academy in Australia.

During these past three years, the forward was picked for multiple global development and training camps such as the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in 2018 and the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas (2018 & 2019).

Playing and competing alongside prospects from around the world at these camps, Singh gained invaluable experience.

"That experience was very important for me," Singh mentions.

Currently, Singh is the only NBA Academy alum to sign with this G League team that consists of elite high school prospects from around the world. The roster, so far, includes the likes of Jalen Green, ESPN's No. 1 high-school prospect in 2020, Jonathan Kunimga, No. 4 on ESPN's top 100 high school prospects for 2020, and Kai Sotto, a 7'2" center from the Philippines.

MORE: Princepal's G League deal - All you need to know

Is Singh nervous to play or share the court alongside such highly-touted prospects?

"No, I'm feeling very good about this because I have gone to the US before for many camps and I might have even played against them. So, I'm excited to compete alongside them."

As the roster for this unique G League squad continues to take shape in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singh is unsure when he would have to depart for the United States. So, he continues to grind, working out every day with the help of his NBA Academy coaches.

"My trainer from Australia, Shane [Connolly, the Strength and Conditioning Coach at the NBA Global Academy] sends me my schedule and I work out according to that."

All in all, Singh displayed a calm demeanor while answering the questions from the media including a couple of repeated ones regarding the culture gap between India and the United States.

"I've gone there before, " Singh said. "The culture isn't very difficult but adjustments will have to be made."

The youngster's groundbreaking achievement, with this deal, is bound to inspire more young India ballers to join the NBA Academy India to fulfill their dreams of playing in the NBA. Having said that, Singh has his feet firmly planted on the ground.

He intends to speak with former Indian-born G Leaguers for advice. Not just Satnam and Amjyot but also Palpreet Singh, who had won the inaugural ACG-NBA Jump in 2016 and was picked in the NBA D-League Draft by the Long Island before being waived just prior to the season.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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