Basketball and India

'The NBA Academy experience has been great for me' - Princepal Singh says while discussing the three-year journey and more

NBA Academy student-athlete Princepal Singh
(NBA Getty Images)

"I gym in the morning for an hour and after that, I do ball-handling drills for an hour in the evening."

As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, that's how Princepal Singh is staying fit these days at home in Dera Baba Nanak - a town in the Gurdaspur district in the state of Punjab, the rising sensation told in an exclusive chat during the last week of April.

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Toughest times in the world right now but there are still many ways to do whatever you need to, even when you are home. Stay home, stay safe and stay active. Mental and physical health is the most important factor to play our game👍🏻''. The World IS LITERALLY IN OUR HANDS #NBATogether #stayInTheGame You are next @yong_xi_cui

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The nation-wide lockdown in India was first enforced on March 23rd for three weeks and since, has been extended twice with the next update scheduled to be announced on May 17th.

"Now, because of Coronavirus, I'm stuck here," Singh shares. "Otherwise, I would be in Australia [at the NBA Global Academy]."

Singh, currently the only Indian there, has been at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra since October 2018.

He received the call-up to the BA's Centre of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) after just 18 months of training at the NBA Academy India. He was part of the first batch of 21 student-athletes that joined in May of 2017.

"The experience at NBA Academy has been great for me," Singh summarizes his three-year journey with the NBA Academy. "First, I was in Delhi [Noida] where they taught us a lot of new things and helped us practice hard. The NBA [Academy] is a great thing for us."

His talent and consistent improvement caught eyeballs.

In approximately, just a year after joining the NBA Academy India, he was selected to multiple of the Academy's development and training camps including four notable ones - Fourth NBA Asia Pacific Team Camp in China in 2017, Basketball Without Borders Global Camp 2018 in Los Angeles, Basketball Without Borders Asia Camp 2018 in India, and the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Italy.

Over the past 18 months, as a member of the NBA Global Academy's roster, Singh has been to Las Vegas twice - in 2018 and 2019/20 - as part of the G-League Showcase.

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"The experience of playing alongside prospects from other countries [at these camps] helps us improve our game," Princepal detailed. "It's a very good feeling."

Given the age at which he was turning heads, it didn't take long for him to receive his first senior national team selection.

In December 2018, Just two months after getting selected to go to the NBA Global Academy and just three years since he started playing basketball at the age of 14, Singh was named part of the senior national team roster for the Super Kung Sheung Cup International Basketball Invitation Championship in Hong Kong.

Most recently, in February of 2020, he was part of the senior squad that competed in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

"It was my dream to play with all of those senior players [Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Amritpal Singh]," Singh shared.

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"I was very happy when I played with them for the first time because I got to play alongside players that I used to watch when I was younger. I got to learn a lot from them - how they play and keep getting better. It was a great experience."

Following the qualifiers, Singh began training alongside another Singh - Satnam Singh.

"I had my exams here in Punjab. So, whenever there was some free time," Princepal began to explain. "I used to go to Ludhiana and workout with Satnam. It was really good training with him. He obviously has a lot of experience, so we share our opinions openly with each other while training. He had become sort of a companion."

The future is undoubtedly bright for Princepal. Can he, along with the growing pool of talented young ballers coming out of the NBA Academy, help the Indian national team become more prominent in Asia?

That remains to be seen and while it is a goal for Singh, playing in the NBA is the immediate goal to accomplish.

For recent interviews with NBA Academy India student-athletes in Amaan Sandhu and Pranav Prince, click here.

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

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