Out of a field of thousands from around the country, 32 young Indian basketball players have emerged, taking one step closer to realising their dream to play in the NBA's Development League (NBDL).
Last year, Satnam Singh became the first Indian player to be drafted into the NBA, and within a few months, found his way into playing for the D-League team Texas Legends. To find more Indian players to follow in Satnam's footsteps, the NBA joined hands with ACG Worldwide in October to launch ACG-NBA Jump, the first-ever basketball talent search programme in India.
Split into three phases, the programme aims to to provide basketball players (all men for the first iteration of this programme) between the ages of 18-22 from around the country the opportunity to develop their skills; one top player from the programme would also receive the opportunity to attend the NBA Development League (NBA D-League) National Tryout in the United States. After regional, elite camps in six Indian cities over the past four months (New Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata), Phase one of the programme is over, and ACG-NBA Jump have chosen 32 finalists to head back to Delhi-NCR for phase two, a national camp to determine the cream of the crop.
Satnam was present himself back in October to launch phase one of the programme in New Delhi.
"ACG-NBA Jump has given basketball playing youth in India a pathway to professional ranks. We are committed to grow the program in the years to come," said NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco.
"While one out of the 32 players will get the big opportunity of a national tryout in the NBA D-League, the entire pool will be a part of Elite Talent Club and NBA will monitor their progress on a regular basis."
"Promotion of sports and youth development has always been a part of ACG's CSR vision and this programme is an important milestone towards realization of this vision," said ACG Director Karan Singh.
"The final pool of players represents the very goal of the programme that was to identify and hone the untapped talent pool of basketball in India. We strongly believe that our partnership with NBA to tap this potential and create a solid platform for the aspirants has found the right beginning. We are as excited as the 32 selected players and can't wait to see the final chosen one take off to the United States for the D-League National Tryout."
At the end of the four-day camp, the player with the best prospect will emerge as the winner of the talent search. In the third and final phase of the programme, thee top player will attend the NBDL Tryout in the USA for the opportunity to earn a spot on a D-League roster. The selected player will continue to undergo training up until the tryout in June 2016.
Sony SIX, the official broadcaster of the NBA in India, will create a feature around ACG-NBA Jump, following the programme through its various stages and tracking the winner till his NBA D-league tryout.
Finalists for ACG-NBA Jump National Camp:
- Ludhiana: Dildar Ravinder Singh, Jaipal Singh Maan, Anmol Gurdip Singh, Manjinder Singh, Anmoldeep Singh, Rajveer Singh.
- Delhi: Darshan, Jotish Joy, Himanshu Sharma, PalPreet Singh Brar, Arshpreet Singh, Sunil, Tushar Vijay, Vishal Kumar Gupta, Akimjeet S. Sohal, Rachit Prem Singh.
- Hyderabad: Ambati Prudhveshwar Reddy, Dinesh Kumar Mishra, Eswar Ambala, PV Nikhil Sai Kumar.
- Mumbai: Loveneet Singh, Samson Sandhu, Gaurav Chandel, Sanket Rajendra Kalbhor, Pranav Wagle.
- Chennai: Jeevanantham Pandi, Arjun Rajagopal, A Surya, S Vignesh, Vijay Pranav.
- Kolkata: Allen Saju Mattam, Sagar Dinesh Joshi, Manpreet Singh Grewal.