Basketball and India

The NBA Academy’s eight-week Women’s Virtual Program 2021 concluded recently.

The program, consisting of 50 young women from over 20 countries, released it’s standout performers yesterday (Aug. 29 IST) with Australia’s Summah Hanson walking with the Camp MVP.

Unlike previous NBA Academy camps around the world over the past few years, this one was held virtually given the current travel and quarantine constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MORE: Parnika hopes to reach WNBA with NBA Academy experience

Given it’s uniqueness, the awards also had their distinct twist with categories like ‘Most Engaged’, ‘Top Performers in Platforms’, ‘Most Creative’, ‘Best Video’ and ‘Perfect Attendance’.

Take a look at the awardees by scorlling through the NBA Academy’s Instagram post:

Four of the five Indians, that were part of the program, made their way to the list of standouts.

The duo of Parnika Srivastava and Sunishka Karthik were featured under two categories of ‘Most Engaged’ and ‘Perfect Attendance’.

MORE: Shomira talks journey to NBA Academy and her future

The other Indian attendees that received recognition were Kavya Singla and Yashneet Kaur. While Singla was one of five standouts under ‘Most Engaged’, Kaur was one of three Indians to have a perfect attendance at the Virtual Porgram.

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Lalhnehpuia Chhakchhuak

As difficult as that name might be to pronounce, it’s time to get used to it.

He’s a 6-1 guard, from Zarkawt in Aizawl, Mizoram from the North East of India, who recently committed to North Park University in Chicago, Illinois.

By doing so, he became the sixth NBA Academy India student-athlete to commit to playing basketball in the U.S after Harshwardhan Tomar (KEBA Preparatory School), Jagshaanbir Singh (Golden State Prep, Point Park University), Pranav Prince (First Love Christian Academy), Amaan Sandhu (First Love Christian Academy), and Riyanshu Negi (DME Sports Academy).

MORE: NBA Academy India Player Stories – Lalhnehpuia Chhakchhuak

“I am looking forward to this opportunity at North Park University that will keep me on the pathway I have set out on,” said Chhakchhuak as part of the official release. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance of the coaching staff at the NBA Academy India and the constant support of my family.”

Value of NBA Academy exposure on & off the court

Lalhnehpuia, or Naua as his friends at the Academy like to call him, joined the NBA Academy as part of its second batch in 2018.

He has represented the NBA Academy India at the Academy Games in 2018 and 2019, as well as Point Loma Nazarene Team Camp in San Diego in 2019.

The point guard credits a lot of his improved basketball play, especially his shooting, and personality development to his three-year stint with the Academy.

When he joined, he was a shy boy from the North East who was unsure about the reception he would receive. Calling it a ‘changing’ moment, he recalls feedback he received during one of the sessions of the Academy’s ‘Performance Lifestyle’ curriculum.

“I found that I had to be more vocal and a bit more open towards my teammates,” he shared on the call with Indian media. “It’s like a burden off. As time passed, I started developing a good relationship with teammates. So, we started to bond more closely and that gave me more confidence.”

MORE: NBA Academy India’s male alumni studying abroad

The Academy’s trips, including those to Australia and Atlanta, Georgia for the Academy Games in 2018 and 2019 respectively, played a huge role as well.

“It boosts my self-esteem when I get to travel and represent the country. When we travel, it really builds team chemistry since we travel as a team, so I became a lot closer to my teammates. Yeah, it was very good for my change in personality,” Lalhnehpuia said in an exclusive with NBA.com India’s Yash Matange.

NBA India Games experience

One such trip from the NBA Academy India’s base, at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), was to Mumbai

When Josh Giddey arrived at the NBA Academy in Canberra, Australia, he possessed much of the skills often seen in elite-level prospects but it was his time there that brought his game to the next level in 2019.

Now, Giddey is on the verge of becoming the first player from the program to be drafted to the NBA.

The NBA Academy, which was started in 2016, is a year-round basketball development program that provides the top high school-age prospects from outside the United States the necessary tools to unlock their skills on and off the court.

Prospects face off against the top competition from around the world throughout the year. They have the opportunity to be selected for travel teams that play in international tournaments and exhibition games in front of college coaches and NBA scouts.

Players’ off-court development is just as important as their on-the-court progress.

“There is nothing more common than wasted potential,” said Marty Clarke, the technical director of the NBA Global Academy in Australia. “One of our jobs is to make sure we fill those gaps that they have, whether it’s an individual skill, basketball IQ or competitive drive. Sometimes, it’s dealing with the media. Some guys mess up dealing with the media.

There is a whole range of things that can trip young people up. Our job is to identify that early. We’re in a lucky position. We’re not here to make money out of it. Our goal is to not win championships because both of those things impede development. Our overall goal when they leave is they need to be able to do two things: Look after themselves off the floor and coach themselves on the floor.

Giddey averaged 12 points, five assists and 4.4 assists in five exhibition games with the NBA Academy. (Photo via NBA Academy)

With Giddey, the staff in Canberra saw a prospect that could flourish on the court and he did just that.

On the international stage, Giddey emerged as one of the top players in the competition. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2020 Torneo Junior Ciutat de L’Hospitalet after averaging 11.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists to lead the NBA Academy to the championship in Barcelona.

Following his impressive outing in Spain, Giddey took part in the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp during All-Star Weekend last year in Chicago. Giddey once again was one of the best players to participate after earning All-Star honors in front of NBA scouts and executives.

The international tournaments each year provides scouts and executives a tremendous opportunity to evaluate prospects in a competitive setting. The practice environment can only offer so much on tape, which makes those international events highly beneficial.

“With any player, there is a certain amount of evaluation you can do onsite but there is also a certain amount you almost need to get during competition and see what you have in a live game,” said Chris Ebersole, the NBA senior director of