With the new academic year for 2020-21 upon us, like last year, we can expect a slew of announcements around Indian basketball players abroad, committing to North American high schools and colleges as student-athletes.
This is both a heartening as well as disconcerting sign. It shows that India’s upcoming basketball talent is on par with the rest of the world. More importantly, it brings these players under the radar of top international scouts, thereby dramatically increasing their chances of becoming future pros.
On the flipside though, this ‘Great Indian Basketball Exodus‘ as I’d like to call it, is also a reflection of the continued lack of facilities (both coaching as well as training centres/venues) and structured competition in India (no school, college or 5×5 Pro League).
List of Indian Basketball Players Abroad (High School/College only)
#1 Sanjana Ramesh- North Arizona University
#2 Harsimran ‘Honey’ Kaur Dhami – Central Pointe Academy/University of San Diego
Probably the brightest prospect from India with a shot at playing in the WNBA, the 6ft 3” Punjab PF/C will be spending a year at Central Pointe Academy in Florida for her final year of high school, followed by NCAA D1 basketball in University of San Diego!
#3 & #4 Pranav Prince & Amaan Sandhu – First Love Christian Academy
#5 Grishma Niranjan
#6 Khushi Dongre- ASA College, Miami
#7 Aashay Verma- Butte College, California
#8 Vaishnavi Yadav- Pensacola State College, Florida
#9 Jagshaan Bir Singh- Point Park University, Pittsburgh
After a stint with the Golden State College, California, the 7ft Jagshaan Bir Singh has signed with Point Park University, Pittsburgh’s NAIA Men’s Basketball program.
#10 Srishti Suren- University of Winnipeg, Canada
#11 & #12 Ann Mary Zachariah and Siya Deodhar – Kansas State Life Prep Academy
The 6ft 2” forward from Kerala has basketball in her genes, with both her parents having played on the Indian team. She will be transferring from Mount Carmel School, Kottayam to Kansas State Life Prep Academy for her junior and senior years of high school (i.e. 11th and 12th standards/grades), and thereafter be aiming for an NCAA D1 scholarship.
#13 Asmat Kaur Taunque- The Lawrenceville School, New Jersey
#14 Sunishka Kartik- Woodside Priory High School
The above is just the initial list, and we can expect more names to get added with every passing year. That said, already, two interesting trends have become obvious:
#1 NBA Academy Programs have begun delivering on promises
From the above eight players, at least six have got recruited directly or indirectly thanks to exposure received from, and initiatives run by, the NBA Academy. NBA Academy’s ‘Academy Women’s Program (AWP)’ launched only in 2018, has especially been paying dividends.
#2 Female ballers doing better than male counterparts
Only two male athletes currently feature on this list. This has perhaps got to do with the fact that generally speaking in India female students fare better in classrooms than their male counterparts. What this implies is that compared to women, male athletes from India are perhaps struggling to meet the academic criteria required for admission in North American colleges. This was believed to be one of the reasons that Satnam Singh never managed to get into a US college and therefore decided to turn pro directly after high school.
Names not included in above list
The above list only includes current student-athletes in the US. So players like Kavita Akula (the first Indian national to receive a D1 scholarship who graduated earlier this year), or Prudhvi Reddy (Europe + US) are not included. Also not included are players like Princepal Singh, who is currently at the NBA Global Academy, Australia.
This list also doesn’t include Indian pro players who played abroad in the 2018-19 season like Amjyot Singh, Jeena Scaria and Satnam Singh, but are currently not on contract.