India's Princepal Singh, touted to be the next big thing in Indian basketball, is yet to decide whether he will enlist for the 2021 NBA Draft, which will be held on 29 July.
The Indian basketball player played in the G League last season as part of Ignite, which was a first-of-its-kind team set up by the league for Draft-eligible prospects. Initially, Ignite were expected to play just a few exhibition games, but when many G League teams opted out of playing in the bio-secure bubble, Ignite were given a spot along with 17 other teams, which ensured at least 15 games for the youngsters.
Princepal's teammates like Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga are widely considered to be selected in the top 5 picks in July. The league has set 30 May as the early entry application while players who have applied for the draft can withdraw before 19 July.
"I'm not sure whether I will enter the Draft. I want to play in the NBA, if not this year, then at least next year,"
Princepal told Firstpost from Ohio, where he is training with Elevate X. "My contract with Ignite ended when the season was done. Maybe I'll play for another G League team next year. Maybe I'll play in the Summer League."
Should he forego the upcoming Draft, he could play another season in the NBA G League provided he finds a team. Ignite, who were set up as an alternative pathway for promising youngsters who choose to opt of playing a year in college, are an unlikely destination for him.
By playing another season in the G League, Princepal could make a more pressing case for himself to the 30 NBA teams than he did in his first season. In his debut G League season, Princepal got just 25 minutes (in four appearances) on the court under coach Brian Shaw, who is a five-time NBA champion. In those minutes, he totalled nine points and grabbed four rebounds.
While Shaw and Princepal's veteran teammates regularly praised his athleticism and work ethic in training and on the court, the Indian needs to bulk up to match up to the physicality of the NBA, particularly since he plays as a centre or power forward. He also had some difficulties with the language.
"In one season in the G League, I started to play a more power-based game. Strength training is very important (to make it in the NBA). People in India don't really do it as much. They just focus on playing basketball. Even I used to concentrate on just playing basketball initially. Then I went to Australia (NBA Global Academy) where I realised how important weight training was, not just to play basketball but to play in the NBA," Princepal, who's 6'9", told journalists on Saturday ahead of hosting a virtual session for youngsters of the Reliance Foundation Junior NBA program.
The 20-year-old also revealed to Firstpost that he was in conversation with teams and agents. It is learnt that an agent who handles a current NBA player is in talks with Princepal.
"I'm in talks with some teams, but at this point, I cannot reveal more than that," he said.
Before Princepal, two other Indians " Satnam Singh and Amjyot Singh Gill " have played in the NBA G League. Palpreet Singh was on the cusp of playing in the G League, after being picked in the Draft by Long Island Nets. However, he was released by the franchise.
The NBA has meanwhile remained an elusive dream for Indians, the world's second-most populous country. Satnam was drafted by Dallas Mavericks in 2015, but he was soon reassigned to their G League team, Texas Legends.