Satnam Singh Bhamara
Satnam Singh was born on December 10, 1995 in Ballo Ke village in Barnala district of Punjab, India. Singh’s father, Balbir, and his grandfather were farmers and millers. Balbir became the tallest person in his village and the locals told him to play basketball. The sport received little interest in India compared to cricket. But Balbir’s father refused and wanted his son to become a farmer. Balbir was elected the head of the village. Balbir married and had three children, Satnam the middle one.
When Satnam was nine years old, he was taller than most of the adults in the village. Balbir took him to a local court to play basketball. Singh struggled to play, he thought his father was taking him to play volleyball. Singh’s father mounted a hoop in the weathered brick wall in the dirt courtyard near his house for Satnam to practise.
When he was 10 years old, Satnam was enrolled in the Ludhiana Basketball Academy in Ludhiana. The aim of the Academy was to develop talent in 14 to 18 year olds from Punjab and its neighbouring states. Singh was taught some of his first basketball skills and drills by Dr. Sankaran Subramanian, former Punjab basketball coach and Sports Authority of India director. When he was 13-years old, Satnam was 6’11” and 230 pounds with size-18 feet.
IMG, the global sports marketing business partnered with Reliance Industries to form a new sports and entertainment marketing company IMG Reliance (IMGR). They signed a 30-year contract with Basketball Federation of India. Reliance announced to provide full scholarships to train athletes and go to school at the Bradenton-based IMG Academy. The first recipients would be four boys and four girls — the best Indian basketball players 13 years old or younger.
In 2009, Singh received an invitation to play at the 2009 FIBA Asia U-16 Championship in Malaysia. He accepted the offer and he made the squad. However he was awarded little playing time throughout each game. After finishing with a win/loss record of 3-4, India lost to China. In June 2010, Satnam, led Punjab’s state youth team to a national championship. The Basketball Federation of India chose him and two others to send to the NBA Basketball Without Borders camp, which was held in Singapore. He was the youngest player there. BFI’s head coach, Harish Sharma, had him play against members of the Indian national team, and he managed to compete with them. Sharma recommended Singh for IMGR to consider him for a scholarship. But the scholarship was for 13 years or under. Satnam was 14. Sharma said, “This boy, you will want to see. I’ve told people many times, he can become India’s Yao Ming.” In July 2010,Satnam became one of 50 players chosen to try out for eight scholarships. Singh represented the India national basketball team at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship and the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
During the 2014-15 season, he averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game. Singh got selected with the 52nd pick by the Dallas Mavericks on June 25, 2015. Singh became the first Indian born player to be drafted into the NBA. He is the first player to enter the draft without playing in college or in NBA Development League.