Palpreet Singh Brar has made it past the first hurdle towards getting to the NBA Development League. Off the over 300 hopefuls, the 21-year-old was one of the 80 who were eventually shortlisted to proceed to the draft phase of the selection. Yet within the final list, senior director of NBA India Carlos Barroca asserts the 6-foot-9 athlete has a strong chance of getting selected. “I’d say he’s somewhere in the middle of that 80. Everyone loved him during the trials,” he says.
For two years Barroca has been following Brar’s development at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, steadily assessing the power forward’s impressive passing sense and rebounding skills. To top that though, is his fearlessness at shooting from distance – a feat that often ends in success. “Most big players like to get close to the rim before they go for the shot. Palpreet though is quite good at shooting from far. He also has a nice jump shot,” Barroca mentions.
His fitness level, however, wasn’t much help to the Doda village resident of Sri Muktsar Sahib district of Punjab. In fact, at the NBA-organised national talent search earlier in the year, Barroca remembers watching anxiously as Brar took to the court. “He had the potential, but he wasn’t in good shape,” he recalls.
On the final stage of the national trials in Noida though, Barroca saw the first glimmer of what Brar was capable of. Pitted against a massive 7-foot-1, yet skinny and frail teenager Aashaya Zerna, Brar displayed a game that Barroca describes as ‘gentlemanly and innovative.’ “If you have someone defending against you who is that skinny, you can easily power through. But Palpreet gave him space, and started working around him instead,” he says. “All he needed was some grooming.”
The training began soon after, as Brar was flown down to Kerala for a stern 45-day program that was designed to boost his physical conditioning. “The first day of training itself had him report at 5:30 in the morning,” Barroca says. Brar’s agility, flexibility, speed and general fitness levels were tested and treated. So much so that while his initial physical assessment readings came up to 5.5 out of 10, the youngster scored an impressive 8.6 once the program ended.
Brar was introduced to the sport when he was 16 by his father. After a year, he was part of the national team at the U18 FIBA Asian Championship, where he first displayed his shooting prowess by recording an impressive 21 points per game – a record for an Indian player at the event.
His shooting skills have created waves among scouts in the US along with improved physique though has also made an impression. Now that he has made it to the draft stages, Brar will continue to train under coach Ross Burn at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. “His body has changed because he’s worked for it. At the same time, his skill has been recognised by the teams there. So he has a good chance at the October draft,” Barroca concludes.