'Want to become a better athlete,' says young cager Jagshaanbir Singh on upcoming stint with Point Park University
Jagshaanbir was recently signed up by Point Park University in United States’ Pittsburgh, and when asked about what he expects from his stint, he just said he aims to improve his skills.
While he may not be a popular name like cricketer Virat Kohli or footballer Kylian Mbappe - superstar athletes who courted fame early in their careers - up and coming Indian basketball player Jagshaanbir Singh, at 19, is perhaps just as committed to giving his best when it comes to playing and competing.
Jagshaanbir was recently signed up by Point Park University in United States’ Pittsburgh, and when asked about what he expects from his upcoming stint, he just said he aims to improve his skills.
“I just want to go there and become a better athlete, improve my skill set,” he told Firstpost.
Jagshaanbir, who hails from Jalandhar in Punjab, revealed that he started taking interest in basketball at the age of 15 by watching NBA games with his father Tejinder Pal Singh every morning. In fact, his father has been a state-level basketball player.
“I chose basketball because of my love for the game. I used to watch NBA games every morning with dad, and he started questioning me on basketball. Gradually, I started practicing basketball. I hadn't made up my mind on basketball then. After that, I went for a state championship, that was when I thought like 'Yeah, I need to make a career in basketball',” he recalled.
His big breakthrough came when he became part of the first-ever class to participate of the NBA Academy India when it launched in 2017.
Jagshanbir represented NBA Academy India during the Academy Games in 2017 and 2018. The opportunity and exposure helped him hone and develop skills.
“It was very important. It played a very important role in my life. Training with other athletes, competing against them, learning new skills, I think it was a pretty great experience,” the teenager said.
During his time at the NBA Academy, he was also a part of the Indian team at the FIBA U-18 Asian Championship in Thailand.
Jagshaanbir also hoped that the NBA India Games that took place in India last year help popularise the sport in the country.
“That was a pretty great move by the NBA to bring the India games in India. Its gonna help basketball help people more about basketball in India. People actually don't know what the NBA. I think if more people know about it, they are gonna start putting their kids into the sport,” he said.
In India, where international league football and domestic kabaddi league enjoy considerable attention, Jagshaanbir feels that focussing on grassroots is the best way to promote the sport.
“We first need to reach the masses about professional basketball leagues, so that more people know about it. I think the NBA and the Basketball Federation of India are doing a good job in promoting the sport by building infrastructure. I think we are on the right track,” he added.
Jagshaanbir's stint with Golden State Prep not only gave him the much-needed international exposure, but also made him aware about the level of competition.
“After my time with the NBA Academy India, I got a call from Golden State personally and asked if I could make the roster. When I joined the roster sometime in September, we played like 45-50 games in a span of six months across US from the West Coast to the East Coast.
“Going there, it was a chance for me to know how basketball is played, the difference in the competition levels of the USA and other countries. I looked into important attributes about myself like speed and aggression. The coaches there helped me a lot. Playing some good teams gave me a lot of exposure and a whole lot of confidence,” he continued.
What also struck him was the hype that basketball generates in the US and the quality of infrastructure they have.
“Basketball is one of the main sports in the US. The hype is immense. In the US, you can see everyone talking about basketball. Parents conversing with kids on the sport. The infrastructure there is quite developed. I think these are some of the major aspects in terms of cultural differences between India and US when it comes to basketball,” he said.
Despite a successful initiation, Jagshaanbir is not thinking of an NBA contract yet. “I haven't thought on anything on that now. It all depends on the way I progress as an athlete,” he concluded.
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