NBA: Who is India's Princepal Singh?
Princepal Singh recently became only the second Indian after Satnam Singh to feature in the NBA Summer League. The 20-year-old played for over a minute for the Sacramento Kings against Washington Wizards on Tuesday. His first professional stint was with the NBA Academy's Ignite team in the G League last year. Let us have a look at the journey of Princepal.
Princepal made a shift from volleyball to basketball
Princepal hails from Gurdaspur, Punjab, where he grew up playing volleyball. In 2014, he decided to join a volleyball academy in Ludhiana. However, Jaipal Singh, a coach at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA), was impressed with the tall structure (6' 9") of Princepal. Jaipal initially trained Princepal at the LBA. Thereafter, Singh trained at the NBA Academy in New Delhi for 18 months.
Punjab won the Junior National Championship in Princepal's presence
Princepal also earned a call-up to the NBA Global Academy, a training center in Canberra. In October 2019, he led Punjab to the Junior National Championship title, scoring 40 points against Rajasthan in the final. He was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the tournament. Princepal also helped Punjab secure gold at the Khelo India Youth Games (Under-21) in 2020.
The big break for Princepal
In July 2020, Princepal signed a one-year contract with the NBA Academy's Ignite team in the G League. He became the first player from the NBA Academy to sign a professional contract. Princepal averaged 2.3 points in four games in his first season.
Princepal has featured in several notable tournaments
Throughout his stint at the NBA Academy program, Princepal participated in quite a few international basketball events. These include Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia 2018, BWB Global 2018, and the NBA Global Camp 2018. In 2017, Princepal helped India win the gold medal at the SABA Under-16 Championship in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was named the MVP of the tournament.
Princepal made his international debut in 2018
Princepal has also represented the Indian men's senior national team in several international tournaments. He made his debut for the senior team in December 2018 at the Super Kung Sheung Cup International Championship in Hong Kong. Over a year later, he made it to the Indian squad for Window 1 of the FIBA Asia Cup qualification stage.
'Great experience to play against top players'
Princepal, only the second Indian to debut at the NBA Summer League, believes his journey has been nothing short of a "dream". "It is a great experience to play against the top players in Summer League. They are all NBA players, who have been drafted. My coach asked me to play hard, said I should focus on my game," he said.