With an aim to facilitate players more and hasten the growth of basketball in a country of more than 1.2 billion people, NBA announced its plans to open an elite basketball training academy in India on Tuesday. The academy will house the top 24 best young talents and is set to launch in April 2017 in New Delhi.
“With the Junior NBA programme going well and basketball being at the peak of its popularity in India, this was the next logical step,” said Brooks Meek, NBA vice-president, International Basketball Operations, in Mumbai on Tuesday according to the Indian Express.
The Junior NBA programme started in 2013 and now has spread to 19 cities. It has 3500 coaches and caters to almost 3.5 million kids across the country according to Mr Meek.
Sim Bhullar, a Canadian of Indian descent made his NBA debut in April in 2015 when he was picked up by Sacramento Kings. Then Satnam Singh was drafted in by Dallas Mavericks in the NBA 2015 Draft. In October this year, Palpreet Singh was signed in by NBA D-League side Long Island Nets. Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh and Palpreet were also the three Indians who were part of the D-League draft, but only the latter made it through. Both Satnam and Palpreet have trained in the USA to improve their game.
This academy will be NBA’s fifth training academy globally and will be fully supported by the basketball association. They already have three elite academies in China and one in Australia.
The top 24 players will be selected through a national scouting programme and will be exposed to NBA level coaching, training facilities, competitions to maximise their skill and potential. They will also receive a scholarship and educational support from the NBA.
“We want to do a national campaign with a series of camps to give every child a fair shot at this. We have a scouting network that uses methodology from our team which we will apply in this process,” said Brooks. He further added, “We have worked very closely with FIBA to help grow the game of basketball in India and we felt that the academy is the best way for us to improve the national team and improve the infrastructure.”
NBA is mainly looking at players from the age of 13 to 17. NBA India’s senior director Carlos Barocca said, ‘We are not looking at just the height of players, neither are we looking at certain regions of India. The first beneficiaries will be U-16, U-18, teams.”
This academy will follow the NBA curriculum and will be guided by league trained coaches.