May 23, 2019

India's junior guard Vaishnavi Yadav commits to Pensacola State College of NJCAA Division 1

The story of Vaishnavi Yadav has already been well-cemented in Uttar Pradesh basketball circles. Just 13, the quick, high-scoring guard from Allahabad began to show her dominance for the state's youth teams in early domestic tournaments, and then soon graduated to starring for the U18 teams, too. She was just 14 when she made her first appearance for India's youth side at the FIBA U16 Asia Championship. Two years later, she returned to the team, now with her skills more polished, and ended up being an unstoppable force leading India to a Division B victory with a division-high average of 20.4 ppg and a team-high 6.2 apg.

But she reached young legendary status at the next youth nationals, in May 2018, where she tallied a record 71 points - the most by a woman at the national level in India - in a losing cause against Kerala. Her efforts were able to lift UP basketball to a respectable status, and she also began to turn heads at the NBA Academy India women's programme where she won the MVP award. It was just a matter of time before the next big leap.

That time is now: The Pensacola State women's basketball team, based out of Pensacola, Florida in the USA, announced the signing of the 17-year-old Yadav to their college and team, which plays in the NJCAA (Junior NCAA) Division 1. The signing adds Yadav (5'7") to a list of many other young Indian women taking a turn for student-athletics for basketball teams in the US, including Kavita Akula and Sanjana Ramesh (both signed to NCAA programmes) and Barkha Sonkar (who played NJCAA).

Pensacola state head coach Penny Belford said, "We are very excited to have Vaishnavi join the Lady Pirate family. She will bring a wealth of playing experience and excitement for the upcoming season."

"So I have officially committed to Pensacola state college," said Yadav on social media. "I would like to thank India basketball, NBA academy, coach [Blair Hardiek] and everyone who helped me in the process. Can't wait to start my new journey this year! Go pirates!"

The 'Lady Pirates' play in the Panhandle Conference of the FCSAAA in Florida, where they finished last in the previous season with a 0-12 record. Hopefully, Yadav's addition to the squad turns around the team's fortunes and also provides the burgeoning Indian star the experience and education to boost her career to the next level.

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