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India’s Newest NBA Hopeful Is a Window Into the Country’s Basketball Future

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Half the Indian village of Dera Baba Nanak had gathered in the Singh family home. It was late July 2020, and relatives, friends, neighbors, kids, reporters, and even local politicians had poured into the modest four-room space, filling the house with the sugary aroma of pinni, a traditional Punjabi sweet that’s stuffed with almonds, pistachios, and raisins.

People had come to celebrate the then-19-year-old Princepal Singh, who had just been selected to the NBA G League’s select Ignite team. Standing at 6-foot-9 and 221 pounds, Singh is the tallest person in Dera Baba Nanak, a small farming community of just over 6,000 in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab, India. It’s a village where everyone knows everyone else. And everyone knows Princepal, whose nickname is “Prince.” He is the village’s star, hope, and portal to possibility: that someone from here could become something beyond here.

Singh’s selection to the Ignite team meant that he was one step away from reaching the NBA—and one step away from becoming the first Indian-born player to make an NBA roster. Satnam Singh (no relation to Princepal) became the first Indian-born player drafted into the NBA in 2015, when the Dallas Mavericks selected him 52nd, but he didn’t crack the roster. Two other Indian players—Amjyot Singh and Palpreet Singh (neither of whom is related to Princepal)—were drafted into the G League but failed to make it past that mark. And while Sim Bhullar was the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA when he made his debut with the Sacramento Kings in 2015, he was born in Toronto.

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Getty Images/Ringer illustration

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.theringer.com/nba/2021/3/16/22332046/princepal-singh-nba-g-league-ignite-basketball-rise-india

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