Just about four years ago, Jagshaanbir Singh Jhawar was busy thinking about his possible career options and the academic courses he would have to take after completing his 10th standard examination when a sudden growth spurt forced him to change direction.
The 19-year-old, son of former university level basketball player Tejinder Pal Singh, was never really interested in making a career in sports despite dabbling in various sports as he was more academically inclined and it was only when he suddenly shot to 6 feet 5 inch during his 10th standard that he started thinking seriously about playing the sport.
“The initial few tournaments were really bad. Everyone would say you have the height but nothing else. But then I started coaching with my father and slowly started improving. My father never forced me to take up the sport earlier because I was good in studies but once I decided to play basketball things changed,” said Jagshaanbir, who has now become the first Indian male basketball player to get a scholarship to join Golden State Prep’s post-graduate program at Napa Valley, San Francisco.
The year-long scholarship will allow Jagshaanbir to train with some of the best upcoming talent and the 19-year-old is looking at the opportunity as a stepping stone to try and find a way to enter the NCAA and eventually the NBA.
“For me, education is equally important and I think I can’t become a better player without that. So my primary aim going there is to improve my skills and on that basis get admission in college and get into a University and play NCAA,” said the youngster who recently scored 80% marks in 12th standard and wants to study humanities and mathematics.
Jagshaanbir’s skills levels have considerably improved since he joined the NBA Academy in Greater Noida two years ago. The same year he was selected for NBA’s Asia Pacific team camp in China and went on to represent India in the FIBA Under-18 Asian championship in Thailand in August last year.
“I have always played centre. But in the last two years my shooting and dribbling has improved a lot. The aim to take my game to the next level,” he added.