With the 52nd pick in Thursday’s Draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected Satnam Singh, making him the first Indian-born player ever drafted in the NBA. Last season, the Canadian-born Sim Bhullar become the first NBA player of Indian-descent, but Singh now holds the distinction of being the first player actually born in India.
At nearly 7’2, 290-pounds, Singh has been playing at Florida’s IMG Academy for the past five years, and according to SB Nation’s Rodger Sherman, he also holds the distinction of being the first player since the NBA’s age requirement was raised to 19 to enter the league having not played in college, in the pros overseas, or in the NBDL. Here are a few more tidbits from Sherman on what makes Singh so unique among his peers:
“He was 7 feet tall when he was 14.
HIS GRANDMA IS 6’9!!!!!!!
Singh was born in Ballo Ke, a village in Punjab with just 700 inhabitants. They nicknamed him “Chhotu” — Punjab for “Little One.” There were no basketball courts there — his dad’s wheat farm is 4 miles from the nearest paved road — so he was sent off to a basketball academy at age 12. But the basketball infrastructure wasn’t ideal.
Singh was selected as one of 29 students to spend three months at the IMG Academy in Florida, but once he got to Florida, they didn’t want to let him go back to India. At the time, he didn’t really speak English. But eventual [sic] he became so popular amongst his classmates that he was elected homecoming king.”
Most scouts have described Singh’s all-around game as raw and think it’ll be a while before Singh can make any meaningful contributions to an NBA team, but he has a nice soft shooting touch that could certainly endear him to a lot of folks in the pace-and-space era of the modern NBA.
It’s been a long day at the Barclays Center, so it’s unclear whether this Celtics fans was confused, a bit tipsy, or just inexplicably happy for Singh as he jumped up to embrace him when his name was called. Either way, we all think it’s pretty cool that Singh has realized his dream of playing in the NBA and has become a pioneer among his countrymen.