TORONTO – Sim Bhullar is making a name for himself by becoming the first player of Indian descent to sign a contract with an NBA team.
The seven foot five inches tall, 360 pounds centre recently signed an undisclosed contract with the Sacramento Kings and says the accomplishment has already garnered a lot attention for the sport of basketball in India, a country where cricket is king.
“I think, probably close to a million kids already started playing basketball because of that, I got messages on Facebook saying kids, just all over India have started picking up basketball and stuff so that’s pretty crazy.”
Bhullar played two seasons for New Mexico State, where he averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He twice earned Western Athletic Conference tournament MVP honours and led the Aggies to back-to-back NCAA tournaments. He went undrafted in June and helped the Kings win the NBA’s Summer League tournament in Las Vegas in July. He will be competing for a spot behind starting centre DeMarcus Cousins who has already given him some tips.
“He told me the adjustment period takes a little bit, but when you get used to it, the speed of the game and stuff you should be good. He told me to work out, work hard every day and just keep pushing yourself and you’ll be great one day.”
Bhullar’s former high school coach Paul Melnik believes that he has what it takes to make it in the NBA.
“I think with proper training, guidance, diet and his work ethic, I think the sky is the limit. I think he can progress to be possibly an NBA all-star at some point,” says Melnik.
As for the possibility of playing for the Toronto Raptors one day, Bhullar says a close family friend is trying to make that happen.
– With files from The Associated Press