Aryan was a good cricketer at school. He was a fast bowler and had played the inter-zonals in New Delhi.
“I like cricket but I think basketball is a much more interesting game. When you see basketball from outside you really want to play it,” said the 19-year-old, a member of the Indian basketball team which played the recent FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, in a chat with Sportstar here.
At 7’2, Aryan is the tallest player in the Indian team and perhaps the tallest top-level player in the country. He also towered over the rest in the Indian National Basketball League which finished its first phase in Kochi on Thursday,
Aryan took to basketball a little late, at 15. He was in the NBA Academy for two years and then in the national camp for another two years before making his debut in a World Cup qualifier against the Philippines in Philippines in July.
“I got a lot of experience from that. Basketball here and outside India are very different,” said the India and INBL’s Delhi Dribblers centre.
Aryan has a very promising road ahead but he is not in a hurry.
“I started pretty late so first I want to be the best version of myself. I’m still not satisfied with my performance and when I get better I will set goals for myself,” he said.
Aryan is a work in progress.
“He is a long-term project. He is very special but these people, over seven feet, they are smelling a different air. Up there, it’s a different air,” said Serbia’s Veselin Matic, India’s chief coach.
And Matic is on the hunt for such tall players.
“How many more Aryans in India? North India is supposed to be a ‘tall area’ but we are not focusing on Kashmir which has a lot of tall people,” said the Serb.
“And UP is a State where people have height, everything. It has nearly 300 million people but then we don’t have a player from there. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi was the last one from there (in the Indian team).”
Matic has seen a few tall boys and he wants them to focus on the sport.
“We know some boys. Now there is one who is the tallest in the world in the 14-year age group. I know him for around two years and now has started playing basketball. But his parents want him for Bollywood,” said the chief coach.
“If it’s going to be like Satnam Singh (a 7’2 player who was drafted to the American NBA a few years ago but who has now moved to pro wrestling), we don’t need him. We need players from the beginning who will be able to focus only on the basketball way.”
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