From Kerala to Colorado: NBA Academy India product Ann Mary Commits to Colorado State University

The Kerala native becomes the fourth player overall from NBA Academy India to earn a Division I basketball scholarship, joining Sanjana Ramesh, Harsimran Kaur and Amaan Sandhu.

Published : Apr 13, 2023 21:17 IST , KOCHI - 2 MINS READ

She had been making waves in junior basketball leagues in the US the last few months, winning a number of player-of-the-week awards. Now, Ann Mary Zachariah has moved to the next level.

The Chennai-born 19-year-old, whose parents hail from Kerala, has secured a sports scholarship from the Colorado State University which plays in the NCAA Division 1. And when she turns out for her new university later this year, junior international Ann Mary will be the first woman player from Tamil Nadu or Kerala to figure in the NCAA Division 1.

She has been playing basketball in the United States since the start of 2020 when she committed to Life Prep Academy in Wichita, Kansas. Thereafter, she joined Howard Junior College in Big Spring, Texas.
While at Howard Junior, Ann Mary averaged 15.4 points per game in her first collegiate season while shooting 40.2 percent and pulling down 10.4 rebounds per contest.
She also recorded nine games with 20+ points, including a career high 37 on 14-for-22 shooting. With her dominating performances on the court, she was named the WJCAC Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Year and to the All-Conference Team.
In 2018, Ann Mary participated in Basketball Without Borders Asia and has participated in multiple NBA Academy Women’s Program camps in India from 2017-2019.
In one of these camps, she won the Coaches Award. She also represented India in two junior FIBA tournaments - U16 Women’s Asian Championship 2017 and U18 Women’s Asian Championship 2018, and was a participant in the NCAA’s Next Generation program at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa.

Though numbers are not readily available, very few girls from India have played in NCAA Division 1.

“My big dream is to play in the WNBA. I have three years in this Division 1 college. It’s going to be a tough journey for me, I’ve got to work hard and I’m willing to do that,” Ann Mary told Sportstar from Texas on Thursday night.

“Five years ago, I didn’t think I’d play in the US, for a US college, I’m truly blessed.

“This is my third year in the US. When I came here, it was very different from India, physically and mentally too. My coaches are pushing me to make me a better player. I’m improving with every practice session.”

Ann Mary has basketball in her genes. Her parents, Zachariah Thomas and Jeena Zachariah, are former internationals – they are now with the Southern Railway in Chennai – and she took to the sport at 10 and is now among the country’s best juniors.

The 6’2 forward, who was in Kottayam’s Mount Carmel School and who had been a part of NBA development camps earlier, played for India in the under-16 and under-18 Asian championships (the country played in Division ‘B’).

In 2019, she was one of the four Indian girls selected for the NCAA’s Next Generation camp in Florida and later she was with the Kansas State Life Preparatory Academy.

Her new moves in the US will be watched very closely back home.

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