College basketball beckons, Jagshaanbir Singh ready to take flight

Jagshaanbir Singh has signed for Point Park University in Pittsburgh, where he will feature in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) division.

Jagshaanbir Singh was the first male player from The NBA Academy India to receive a basketball scholarship for a Post Graduate Program in US.   -  Special Arrangement

Young hoopster Jagshaanbir Singh reached India on February 15 for some personal work and was due to fly back to the US in March, where he was undergoing the Golden State Prep scholarship programme in California. The coronavirus pandemic meant he had to abandon his travel plans and the nation-wide lockdown has kept him from setting foot on a court for nearly 46 days.

However, there was some much-needed good news recently for the 7-footer. He has signed for Point Park University in Pittsburgh, where he will feature in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) division.

READ | Point Park signs Jagshaanbir from NBA Academy India

Son of Tejinder Pal Singh, a former national-level basketball player, the 19-year-old is maintaining his fitness and conditioning at his home in Jalandhar and is eager to get back on the court. “It's quite frustrating to sit at home and not play basketball,” Jagshaanbir told Sportstar.

“My season starts in the fall. So I have two-three months to see whether things slow down. So let's hope things get better which would allow us to get back in the court.”

It’s been a rapid rise for Jagshaanbir, who until 2017 - when he joined the NBA Academy India - had never played on a hardwood court. While the academy stint helped in shaping his skills, he describes the scholarship programme with Golden State Prep as a ‘reality check’.

“It gave me a sense of real basketball and how the game is played. When I went there, their style of play, athleticism, technique, speed and aggression was totally different to me. It was on a whole new level. They helped me a lot to improve my speed and my general skill stuff. They also helped me with my mentality, which is being a beast on the court,” he says.

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His development on the court caught the attention of recruiters around the country. “I played nearly 45-50 games from the west coast to the east coast. The coaches used to come and see us for recruitment. I was being courted by a lot of universities but Point Park gave me a great offer.”

Jagshaanbir did his homework before deciding to commit to Point Park. “They have a history of training big men,” he says, referring to his soon-to-be-head coach Joe Lewandowski and assistant Daryn Freedman.

“They trained Sim Bhullar [7’ 5” Canadian basketball player of Indian descent, who was drafted by the Sacramento Kings]. And the head coach has trained the US basketball three-on-three teams both men and women and they went on to win many championships. I liked their [Point Park’s] basketball culture and system so I decided to commit there and work towards my goal of getting into Pro League.”

An avid fan of the NBA growing up, Jagshaanbir, like so many basketball fans around the world, is watching the Netflix hit ‘The Last Dance’, a docu-series on Chicago Bulls’ championship-winning season of 1998. “We are going through this struggle now and how they made that team into a championship-winning team, irrespective of all of the factors that were putting them down is inspiring. So I think it's a great influence for us and it's going to motivate a lot of individuals to play the game of basketball,” he says.

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