19-year-old from Punjab becomes first basketball player from India to be picked in draft
He has been living in the United States since 2010, but only on Thursday did Satnam Singh Bhamara realise the American dream. The 19-year-old, who is originally from Ballo Ke village in Punjab and has been training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for nearly five years now, was chosen by NBA franchise Dallas Mavericks as the 52nd overall pick in the 60-pick draft.
Satnam Singh (centre) attends the 2015 NBA draft on Thursday in New York. PIC/NBA Entertainment
The seven-foot-two, 290-pound centre thus becomes the first player ever from India to be picked in the NBA draft.
Satnam said that he spent a sleepless night before the draft. "Forget sleeping, I haven’t even eaten anything because of the anxiety. There were no nerves as such, but just that feeling that I should make it. I was certainly hopeful after coming this far, but there is always a big ‘if’. I prayed to all the Gurus and Gods I know before coming here today. All I could think of during the draft was ‘naam aaja’ (let my name be announced)," Satnam told reporters from New York yesterday.
He added that his mother and sister had spent the last few days continuously praying for him to get picked.
"By the grace of God, I have realised my dream. I haven’t been able to call home, but I certainly will very soon. I can never forget the prayers and sacrifices of my mother, who has been praying daily for the last few days. My sister also went to the gurudwara and prayed a lot for me," he added.
At Dallas, Satnam, will be part of a roster that includes German superstar Dirk Nowitzki. And the Indian said he was looking forward to learning the tricks of the trade from star forward.
"It will definitely be a learning experience and I would certainly look to pick a few things from Dirk Nowitzki," he added. For now though, it seems likely that Satnam will turn out for Dallas’ Development League affiliate team Texas Legends.
>> Satnam comes from a really tall family. His father, Balbir Singh Bhamara, is also 7’2”, while Balbir’s mother is 6’9”.
>> Satnam was ironically nicknamed ‘Chhotu’ or the little one by his parents while growing up.
>> This is first time since 2005 that a player has been picked into the NBA without playing in college, overseas or the NBA Development League.
>> Playing for IMG’s prep team last season, Satnam averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.