By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we take a look at the close of the NBA season, the start of baseball, and golf is always on our minds.
Bhullar is first Indian born player in NBA
Gursimran “Sim” Bhullar made his long-awaited debut in the NBA after spending much of this year in the NBA’s developmental league (known as the NBDL). Of course, there’s nothing much to develop out of the Canadian-Indian’s 7 foot 5 frame. With his appearance this year, he was the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA. He also is the sixth-tallest player in NBA history.
Bhullar went to New Mexico State University to play college basketball. His brother, Tanveer, also played for the team. After graduating in 2014, Bhullar did not get drafted by an NBA team. However, he was signed by the Sacramento Kings in August of 2014 making him the first player from India to be signed by an NBA team. His stint was short-lived as he never played a regular season game for the Kings and was waived in October 2014.
He was picked up by Reno of the NBDL and began playing in December of that year. Bhullar started off slow but showed signs of improvement. In February of this year, Bhullar recorded a “triple double” with double digits in three important categories. He scored 26 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocked shots against the Los Angeles NBDL team.
In April 2015, he signed a 10 day contract with Sacramento. Bhullar played sparingly but when he checked into a game late in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 7th, he became the first player from India to play in the NBA. Bhullar was not retained by the Kings after his contract expired.
Bhullars’s story is similar to many that have hoop dreams. You can’t teach height and his size should help him gain further opportunities. Hopefully he will catch on with another NBA team next season.
Linsanity ends season with a knee injury
The Los Angeles Lakers announced that Jeremy Lin would sit out the last three games of the season with a knee injury ending an up and down season for the Taiwanese American guard. Since the Lakers will not make the playoffs, it might be the last time Lin wears a Lakers uniform. Lin played 74 games for the Lakers this season averaging 11.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds. He shot 42.4 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from 3 point range. The numbers are not too far off his career averages.
Lin is an unrestricted free agent meaning he will not be under contract with the Lakers and is free to sign with any team. But, his current contract pays Lin almost $15 million and it is unlikely that the Lakers would re-sign him for that amount of money. Lin is an established point guard and had flashes of “Linsanity” this season. We should see him somewhere in the NBA next season.
As baseball begins, where is Ichiro?
Baseball season began this month and many locals are actually excited about the prospects of the Mariners season. This year could be the year that the Mariners make it back to post-season baseball. As we look forward to the season, it had me wondering about where is Ichiro?
You may recall Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the New York Yankees midway through the 2012 baseball season.
Unlike in Seattle, Suzuki played in a limited role for the Yankees. After two years in New York, Ichiro moved on wanting to continue his baseball career at the age of 41. Suzuki landed a one year deal for $2 million with the Miami Marlins. Although Suzuki is projected to be a backup this year complimenting a young outfield, he has already seen playing time in the opening week of the season.
We wish Ichiro the best.
UW golfers excel
The UW men’s and women’s golf team have had very good seasons and are led by two unheralded players of Asian descent. One you may know, one you may not.
We have written about Cheng-Tsung Pan in the past as his career at the UW has been stellar. Not only has he been great for the UW team, he has qualified to play in some of the top events for pros. Still an amateur, it is easy to think that Pan will soon be playing against the likes of Tiger Woods on a daily basis.
In a recent interview with Golf Today Northwest, Pan shared that his father was a math teacher and his mother was a caddie. His father has passed away. He is the youngest of five children. He received a golf scholarship from IMG Academy in Florida when he was 15 and despite knowing little English, he left Taiwan for Florida.
He is now one of the best collegiate golfers in the nation.
Even before playing golf full-time, he has played in two U.S. Opens and last year in the British Open. This is a big achievement for someone still in college. At only 5 foot 6 and 150 pounds, Pan leads the #10 nationally ranked Husky men’s golf team. Recently, Pan won the Pac 12 Conference Golfer of the Month. It was the second time that Pan has earned the honor.
Pan is the #6 amateur in the world and it’s undeniable that the senior will be playing on the PGA tour as a pro next year.
On the other side of UW golf, the women’s team is led by senior Jennifer Yang. The native of South Korea is leading the Husky women’s golf team after SooBin Kim and Jing Yan left the team to join the LPGA tour during this season. Her consistency has helped the team as it has won three consecutive events and solidified their status as the No. 1 team in the nation.
Yang has finished in the top five in five of seven events this year including her first individual win at the Bay Area Invite this past March. She also has 15 top-10 finishes which ranks as sixth most in school history. She is looking to improve on her Second-team All-Pac 12 Conference honor as a junior.
She looks to be on her way to a First-Team All-Pac 12 Conference this year as a senior. Recently, Yang was named Pac 12-Golfer for the month of March.
Good luck to Pan and Yang for the rest of the season. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.