Satnam Singh became the first Indian-born player selected in the NBA Draft after the Dallas Mavericks picked him Thursday night with the 52nd overall pick.
After moving to the United States, Singh joined the IMG Academy where he averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks a game. Singh stands at seven-foot-two.
IMG noted on his online profile that he could not speak English when he arrived, but he has become more proficient in the language. He was interviewed by both ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated without the aid of a translator.
Kenny Natt, IMG's director of basketball, spoke to the Indian Express about what drew him to Satnam Singh and some of the best aspects of his game.
"My first most memorable impression of Satnam was obviously his enormous size at 14 years of age. Second, was his warm smile, huge hands, and of course, his bubbly personality and genuine passion for the game. What was also very noticeable was his basic skills set. In the areas of perimeter shooting, touch and inside post moves to left and right-hand, he was above average for such a young and big man with a minimal number of years of formal skills training."Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel wrote a story on Sing in 2013. In the story, he recalls Sing's origins growing up on the Indian subcontinent.
"Satnam spent his first few years living in a mud hut, and the modest brick house in which his family lives today is four miles from the nearest paved road. His father, Balbir, attended school through only the fifth grade and met his wife through an arranged marriage. Balbir is also more than seven feet tall, but basketball wasn't an option for him because he had to work on the farm. He's a former head of Ballo Ke, a village of 800 in the Punjab, where he farms wheat, sells buffalo milk and grinds flour at his in-home mill. 'We have faced hard times,' says Balbir. 'The things I couldn't do in my life, I want Satnam to do.'"Satnam Singh will be only the second player of Indian descent in NBA history, but he's the first to be selected in the NBA Draft. Sim Bhullar, whose parents emigrated to Canada, played for the Sacramento Kings last season.
Singh will most likely have a larger impact on basketball in India than Bhullar since he was born in the country.
If Satnam Singh is unable to establish himself as a role player after the NBA Draft, his long and treacherous journey to the league alone will be inspiring to his fellow countrymen.
[Image Source: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images]