Indian basketball pros found in leagues around the globe

Basketball is a burgeoning sport throughout India, especially with the nation’s younger people.
Photo by Me13farhan / CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo by Me13farhan / CC BY-SA 4.0

Basketball is a burgeoning sport throughout India, especially with the nation’s younger people.

This rise in popularity, for both spectators and participants alike, is attributable to the increasing number of basketball leagues and academies in India as well as access to the NBA stars of the US via social media.

The players coming out of India take a different course to international leagues than in basketball’s native country of the US where most talent plays for competitive universities with top odds in the NCAA Championship before entering the NBA Draft.

Here’s a look at four noteworthy pros of Indian descent who constitute the first - and for sure, not the last - wave of basketball players competing in elite leagues around the world.

Sim Bhullar
Born in Canada to Indian parents, Bhullar went undrafted by an NBA team in 2014 out of New Mexico State University.

He did find a home, however, in North America’s highest league when the Sacramento Kings added him to their pre-season roster.

Bhullar quickly bounced to the Kings G League or development league squad, the Reno Bighorns (now the Stockton Kings) for most of the 2014-15 season.

He eventually earned a 10-day contract with the Kings and made history on April 7, 2015, becoming the first player of Indian descent to appear in an NBA game. Bhullar recorded his first two NBA points the following game.

The 7'6" centre is currently a standout for Guangxi Weizhuang of China’s National Basketball League.

Satnam Singh
Satnam Singh became the first Indian player drafted to the NBA in 2015 when the Dallas Mavericks selected him in the second round with the 52nd overall pick.

The 7'2" centre from Baloke, Punjab began playing basketball early on, quickly earning the nickname “Chhotu” or “little one” thanks to the way the basketball shrank in his hands as he grew taller.

Singh spent the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons competing with the Mavericks in the NBA Summer League, and the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ G League affiliate.

Since 2018, Singh has been a fixture with the St John’s Edge of the National Basketball League of Canada.

Singh’s story featured in an hour-length Netflix documentary titled "One in a Billion."

Photo by Airman 1st Class Kerelin Molina / CC0 1.0

Amjyot Singh
Hailing from Chandigarh, Amjyot Singh is currently a forward with the Wisconsin Herd, the G League team of the Milwaukee Bucks.

He spent the previous two seasons with another G League squad, the Oklahoma City Blue.

Singh’s playing career outside of India started on a barrier-breaking note when he joined the Tokyo Excellence of Japan’s National Basketball Development League in 2015, becoming the first Indian male player, along with teammate Amritpal Singh, to sign international pro basketball contracts.

The 6'8" hoop-driver returned home in 2016-17 for a stint with the Delhi Capitals of India’s United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League before landing in the American pro ranks.

Amritpal Singh
Hailing from Amritsar, Punjab, Amritpal Singh’s international career began in 2015, with the Tokyo Excellence following an exemplary performance in a Japanese Summer League.

Singh helped power the Tokyo Excellence to the 2015-16 National Basketball Development League (NBDL) Championship title.

Singh swapped continents for the 2017-18 basketball season, signing with the Sydney Kings to become the first Indian-born player to compete in the Australian National Basketball League.

The 6'11" centre averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per game in 24 appearances with the Sydney Kings.

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