The future of basketball in one of the world's largest countries has arrived, and he's working away at Bradenton Florida's legendary IMG Academy as a precocious 14-year-old. The trick is that he's not lighting the way for the U.S., but for a country that has never been known for anything athletic but cricket: India.
Satnam Singh Bhamara is a whopping 7-feet tall and 250 pounds, a physique rarely seen among lanky high school seniors, let alone freshmen. That body has some talent scouts believing he could become an elite NBA player, once his neuromuscular system begins reacting the way many American basketball players' does. Because of Singh's late start with the sport -- he never picked up a basketball until two years ago -- he still struggles to get his body to react with the same speed that others have.
Many believe he may grow to be much bigger than most of the centers in the NBA. He's not far off that mark already. At age 14, he wears a size 22 shoe and continues to spurt. His father reportedly stands 7-foot-2, and one of his grandmothers is 6-foot-9. Those are the kind of genes that don't stop at age 14.
Singh arrived at the IMG Academy in early November with a crop of 28 other Indian exchange members, all of whom showed up for the first edition of a new six-week program at the IMG Academy for Indian prospects. The difference is that the other 28 have returned to India. Singh, meanwhile, won't be going home anytime soon.
Instead, he's staying at IMG, where he will compete for the academy's basketball team and continue to work with the program's trainers and English tutors to improve his language skills. To this point he still speaks only very limited English, instead speaking only in his native Punjab.
That is likely to change with time. As will his athletic training and familiarity with the greater pace and athleticism of basketball in America. What won't change is Singh's size or the hope for him in his native land, where he's already being marked as India's Yao Ming.
"Satnam could one day do the same thing for India that Yao Ming did in China -- put the spotlight on basketball through an entire country,'' Troy Justice, the NBA director of basketball operations in India, told FanHouse. "It really could be something.''