By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. Even though it’s the summer, we have a lot of hoops news.
Your new favorite team for Asian Americans and Indian Americans? The Dallas Mavericks.
The Mark Cuban-owned franchise drafted 7-foot-2 Satnam Singh as the 52nd player chosen overall during June’s NBA Draft. With the pick, Singh becomes the first Indian-born player drafted in the NBA. “I was just hoping for my name to be announced so it would do India proud,” Singh said during a conference call with reporters after being picked. “It will popularize the NBA, and basketball will be like cricket in India,” Singh forecasted about his historical selection.
Singh grew up in a small village in the northern state of Punjab and was one of the tallest people in town at a very young age. Of course, his father stands at 7-foot-3.
Since Singh was 6-foot-11 at age 13, he was a natural fit to play basketball and after he showed interest in the sport his father sought out players and coaches in India. The interest in the sport eventually led Singh, at the age of 15, to move from India to Bradenton, Florida to train at the IMG Academy and learn basketball. The global sports and media business partnered with an Indian company to grant scholarships to athletes with potential of playing professional basketball. Singh was a big fan of Kobe Bryant growing up, and as a big man, wanted to pattern his playing style like former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.
Due to academic issues, Singh did not receive an opportunity to play college basketball. Thus, in April 2015 he declared for the NBA Draft. Singh has been praised by coaches and scouts for his work ethic and despite his great height, he has a decent outside shot. Singh, who is only 19 years old, weighs 290 pounds and wears size 20 shoes.
Although Singh has been drafted by the Mavericks, do not expect him playing for the NBA team next season.
Singh appears to be a project for the team as the plan is for him to play for the Mavericks summer league team which features prospects and draft picks but not many top NBA stars. He will then play for the Dallas NBA Developmental League team. At 19, there is time for him to hone his skills to eventually play for the Mavericks.
Singh might actually run into another tall Indian basketball player as Gursimran “Sim” Bhullar is signed to play for the Sacramento Kings summer league team. The Canadian-born Bhullar became the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA when he played for the Kings last season. The 7-foot-5, 22-year-old Bhullar will look to impress the Kings in hopes of being retained for next season. Bhullar’s family is also from Punjab and the two spoke by phone before the draft.
In other basketball news, Jeremy Lin has found a new team signing with the Charlotte Hornets. Lin made the announcement via social media. Notably, former Seattle Supersonics executive, Rich Cho is the General Manager of the Hornets. “We are excited to add Jeremy Lin to our lineup. He is a talented player who we feel can make significant contributions to our basketball team,” stated Cho after the franchise made the signing.
“We’ve been looking to get more depth in our backcourt and we feel really good about deciding to do this. I think he’s [Lin] going to bring some energy to our backcourt and our second unit. He’ll be a great addition.”
And then … former Seattle University basketball player Isaiah Umipig will be playing professionally in Slovakia for club team MBK Rieker Com Therm Komarno. Umipig, who is Filipino American, is originally from Federal Way, Washington and averaged 17 points per game for the Redhawks this season. Umipig led Federal Way High School to a Class 4A state championship in 2009. The 6-foot guard will further his basketball career overseas.
A name that was not called during the NBA Draft was Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. The Filipino American is the son of Bobby Ray Parks, Sr. who was drafted in the third round of the 1984 NBA draft after a standout career at Memphis State. Although his father never made it in the NBA, he was a star in the Philippine Basketball Association. Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. was a high school basketball standout in Tennessee where his family resided. He even committed to play basketball at Georgia Tech. However, in a surprising turn of events, he decided to follow his father to the Philippines after he took a job there. Junior decided to play college basketball at National University. After playing college basketball at National, he played in the Philippines Basketball Association before putting his name in for the 2015 NBA draft. NBA scouts must have remembered his play as he was invited to work out for the Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, and Boston Celtics. Parks plans to chase his NBA dream in honor of his father who passed away of cancer in 2013.
Although his name was not called during the draft, he will be joining Singh on the Dallas Mavericks summer league team as he was extended an invite by the franchise. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.