Former captain of the Indian Women’s Senior Basketball team Geethu Anna Jose has become the first Indian basketball player to be invited for a tryout with any NBA/WNBA teams: Between April 27 – May 4, Jose traveled the breadth of the USA to complete tryouts with three WNBA teams – Chicago Sky (April 27-28), Los Angeles Sparks (April 30-May 1), and San Antonio Silver Stars (May 3-4).
Jose reported back to the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), saying that she felt positive about her trials. “I feel like I have done well,” she wrote, “The coaches of all the three teams liked my fundamentals – it is good for Indian basketball.”
“I've given my everything,” said Jose, “I hope the coaches of all the three teams were impressed with my skills.”
In Chicago, Jose first worked out with Bill Harris, the former coach of the Indian Men’s national team, before heading for a two-day, one-on-one tryout with the Chicago Sky and their coaching team.
In the Los Angeles trials, Jose was amongst 60 talented basketball players fighting for a spot on the roster of the Sparks’ squad. Local media reported that “Despite her reserved demeanor, Jose was one of the players who stood out” at the trials.
Here are some quotes from Sparks’ coach Jennifer Gillom from FoxSportsWest:
"I noticed her the first day," Gillom said, "I thought she was definitely fundamentally sound and she just lacked the aggressiveness, being a little bit more assertive, not being as soft, because if she had that, there'd be a lot of players in trouble. That's for sure.”
"She has a beautiful shot, those types of things. But you get a little bit skeptical when she has to defend someone else and those types of things, or being physical in the post or on the wings. She has to bring it out in herself."
Jose’s final tryout was with the San Antonio Silver Stars, where she worked out with the team’s coach and GM Dan Hughes on May 3-4. You can find a short video of Jose’s tryout and Hughes’ positive comments on her here:
According to MySanAntonio.com, Jose left a “good impression” on the Silver Stars:
“What was amazing to me working her out was her listening ability was tremendous,” Hughes said. “That was really pleasing, really exciting to see an athlete that cares that much about getting better.
“She's been in Chicago, L.A. and now here in San Antonio, and she's going through every drill with an intensity. I enjoyed working with her. It was a favorable impression she left on me.”
Troy Justice, the Director of Basketball Operations of NBA in India, assisted Jose a lot in securing the tryouts and worked-out with her in Chennai before her departure to the USA. He reports that he has been in contact with all the coaches of the WNBA teams who worked with Jose.
"The coaches were impressed with her," says Justice, "They commended her on two things: firstly as a person and a representative of India to the WNBA, and secondly, for her talents on court: her skill-set, her athletic ability, and her basketball IQ were all greatly appreciated."
Justice added: "Jose is a quick learner and she improved drastically during the course of her time in the USA."
Jose was greeted warmly by the Indian community in the USA. A felicitation and media interaction session was held for her in Chicago after her tryouts with the Sky. In San Antonio, she got a another special welcome by the city’s Indian community, and she got the honour of meeting the city’s Mayor Julian Castro with the city’s council members in City Hall on May 5th.
She will now return to India and hear about the results of her tryouts in a few weeks.
Hailing from Kottayam, Kerala, the 6 foot 2 Jose has been the biggest Indian basketball star for several years: she has captained the Indian Women’s side at the FIBA Asia Women’s Basketball Championship in 2009, where she was leading scorer in Asia. She has represented India in several major tournaments, including the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia and the 2010 Asian Games basketball championship in Guangzhou (China). Jose, who stands at 6 feet and 2 inches, is currently working for Southern Railway in Chennai, and, representing Indian Railways, has won seven consecutive National Basketball Championship titles. She was also the first Indian women to play professionally in Australia, when she represented the Ringwood Hawks, a lower division team in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), and won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2008.