India's basketball expectations are about to get updated once again. Palpreet Singh (21), the winner of the ACG-NBA Jump - India's first national basketball talent search programme - has now signed a contract with the NBA's D-League. This contract makes him eligible to be drafted in the NBDL on their draft night on October 30, 2016. Palpreet hopes to become the second Indian national to play in the D-League, following in the footsteps of Satnam Singh of the Texas Legends, the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA.
Palpreet's potential was spotted by NBA coaches at the ACG-NBA Jump Finals in Greater Noida earlier this year, coaches that included former NBA champion Brian Shaw. With his victory, he won an opportunity to take part in the D-League's National tryouts. Palpreet spent the first half of 2016 working with coaches in India to get his skillset ready for the NBA D-League. In early July, he headed to the USA to continue his training. He began training at the John Lucas Academy in Houston (Texas) and later, took part in the tryouts in New York City in mid-August. He remains on the grind now, still in New York City, where he is practicing with the New York Athletic Club.
The new contract doesn't mean that Palpreet is guaranteed to play in the D-League for the upcoming season; it only guarantees that he'll be among the eighty or so names who will be eligible on draft night.
"The competition is tough but it is great to know you are competing with the best to play in the best league in the world," he said.
In an interview with the Indian Express' Shahid Judge, NBA India's Senior Director Carlos Barroca, who has followed Palpreet's improvements over the last few years, seemed optimistic of his chances to be drafted.
Off the over 300 hopefuls, the 21-year-old was one of the 80 who were eventually shortlisted to proceed to the draft phase of the selection. Yet within the final list, senior director of NBA India Carlos Barroca asserts the 6-foot-9 athlete has a strong chance of getting selected. “I’d say he’s somewhere in the middle of that 80. Everyone loved him during the trials,” he says.
Years ago, Palpreet Singh and Satnam Singh shared a common room at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA), Punjab's premier hoops institution where they both trained to become the Indian basketball stars that they are today. Hopefully, the two Punjabis will see their paths cross again across the pond and double the butter chicken order in the D-League for the next season.