The list of Indian basketball players abroad, committing to high schools and colleges as student-athletes, is steadily growing.
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/PREP School/College only)
#1 Sanjana Ramesh- North Arizona University
The only NCAA D1 player in this list, Ramesh is currently a sophomore with the ‘Lumberjacks’. After getting only a few minutes of action as a freshman, Ramesh made history as the first Indian national to score as a sophomore.
#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 Asmat Kaur Taunque – California Institute of Technology (‘Caltech’)
Asmat Kaur Taunque, former India U16 baller from Madhya Pradesh, has committed to the California Institute of Technology (‘Caltech’). Caltech belongs to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in NCAA Division 3.
The 17-year-old is currently finishing high school at The Lawrenceville School, New Jersey and has been asked to report to Caltech by September this year.
#4 Lalnehpuia Chhakchhuak – North Park University, Chicago
The first Mizoram NBA Academy graduate, Lalnehpuia Chhakchhuak, has committed to the North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. The ‘Vikings’ are part of the NCAA Division III circuit.
#5 Anmolpreet Pannu – Osaka University, Japan
The seniormost name of this list, Pannu is a trailblazer in her own right, heading East rather than West.
#6 & #7 Pranav Prince & Amaan Sandhu – First Love Christian Academy
First Love Christian Academy is a private high school in Washington, Pennsylvania. Prince is a senior, while Sandhu is a junior.
#8 Grishma Niranjan- Loomis Chaffe School, Connecticut
Karnataka’s Grishma has also joined a prep school in the hopes of making it to an NCAA D1 college program in the future.
#9 Riyanshu Negi- DME Sports Academy
DME Sports Academy is a prep school in Dayton, Florida.
#10 Aashay Verma- Butte College, California
#11 Harshwardhan Tomar, KEBA Preparatory School, Ohio
#12 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.
#13 Srishti Suren- University of Winnipeg, Canada
#14 & #15 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.
#16 Sunishka Kartik- Woodside Priory High School
We can expect the list of Indian basketball players abroad growing with every passing year. That said, already, two interesting trends have become obvious:
#1 NBA Academy Programs have begun delivering on promises
Most of the above players 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 initially doing better than male counterparts
From the initial list of eight players, six were women. 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), Satnam Singh or Prudhvi Reddy (Europe + US) are not included. Also not included are players like Princepal Singh, who graduated from the NBA Global Academy, Australia.
*Vaishnavi Yadav (Pensacola State College) & Khushi Dongre (ASA College, Maimi) were part of this list but their scholarships were revoked.
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