On Wednesday, as the six feet and 11 inches tall Chandigarh basketball player Amaan Sandhu was preparing to leave from New Delhi to Pittsburg, USA, Sandhu’s parents, former basketball players, Gursharanjeet Singh Sandhu and Rajinder Kaur Sandhu were an emotional lot.
Sandhu is the third basketball player from the NBA Academy India to get a high school basketball scholarship in the USA and will be joining the First Love Christian Academy (FLCA), Washington, Pennsylvania. Sandhu will be spending the next one year in the USA and would try to get a full NCAA Division 1 scholarship at a US university next year.
“It’s a big step in my career and I am excited to join the FCLA for the high school. It is an important step to realise the goal of getting a full NCAA Division 1 Scholarship at a US university. If that happens, it will open new doors of opportunities for me. As a member of the NBA Academy India, I have spent more than three years in an academy system away from home and I am ready for the basketball journey in the USA. It’s an emotional moment for my parents too as they are happy as well but emotional too on sending me away from them,” Sandhu said.
Proud to announce Amaan Sandhu @AmaanSandhu23 7’0 will be attending First Love! India’s TOP prospect has incredible size/wingspan Part of the Indian Men’s Nat’l team that won Gold Medal South Asian Games ‘19 Only 3rd player to come to the USA from @NBAIndia pic.twitter.com/zyRgJPnkrX
— First Love Hoops (@Firstlove_hoops) October 6, 2020
The youngster, who once weighed 130 kg, would initially start training at Sector 42 Sports Complex before being selected for the NBA Academy India in 2017. Sandhu, who guided Punjab to the junior national title last year, was a member of the Indian basketball team which won the gold medal in South Asian Games in Nepal last year before he was selected in the Indian basketball team for the FIBA Asia Qualifiers held in Dubai in February this year. Sandhu, who did not play in any of the two games in Dubai, was the youngest member of the Indian team. The last six months have seen Sandhu practise his dribbling skills apart from spending time on court and studying tuitions in the recent days. “Prior to the lockdown, I was preparing for this year’s junior nationals, which got postponed. During the lockdown, I spent time working out at home and also spending time on my dribbling. I was also attending the webinar by the BFI and the academy and it helped me. During the recent months, I also spent some time on court as well as attending tuitions to prepare for the high school in the US,” Sandhu said.
In the last four years, only three Indian players have been selected for NCAA Division 1 scholarship in the USA with Kavita Akula and Sanjana Ramesh being the first two and Harsimran Kaur set to join University of San Diego next year. Sandhu, who attended the NBA basketball without borders camp in the USA early this year, wants to improve his dribbling and shooting skills in the USA. The youngster too has some concern about the Covid cases still in excess of 1,000 in Pennsylvania state, where he is attending the high school. “Yes, there is some fear in the mind as I will be on my own in USA and there is nobody to remind me about the health precautions or take care in case I fall ill. Regarding my game, I want to improve my shooting as well as dribbling apart from improving the overall basketball IQ. The NCAA Division 1 remains one of the doors to NBA and getting the scholarship remains my target,” Sandhu added.
Marc Pulles, basketball operations team leader, NBA India, believes that going to FCLA will help him to adjust to the competition level in the USA. “Amaan has some years before applying for a college. Going to the First Love at this stage will help him to adjust to the competition levels in the US and prepare him better to get a good scholarship after completing his High School,” Pulles said.
As for Sandhu, spending time in the USA will mean that he does not have to wait to get size 17 shoes for himself. “Even though NBA India and BFI have been helping with shoes, being in USA can mean I can get my shoes easily and choose them at a store too,” Sandhu said with a laugh.
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