Years of playing and training with her basketball coach father, Sukhdev Singh, and his trainees has given Harsimran Kaur the confidence of taking on players who are bigger and stronger than her. That confidence and the skills honed at the NBA Academy India and the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, will be put to test in the next season as the 16-year-old from Kapurthala, Punjab, has been picked to play for a top American University on a basketball scholarship.
Harsimran has committed to attend the University of San Diego for the class of 2021 and play in the top division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). San Diego Toreros had qualified for the 2020 Women’s National Invitation Tournament, the second rung knock-out competition in the Division 1 after the Women’s NCAA Tournament and comprises 64 teams.
Harsimran is expecting to join the team next January or whenever the Novel Coronavirus pandemic subsides.
Harsimran has committed to representing San Diego Toreros a few days back, becoming the second player from the NBA Academies Women’s Program and third Indian-born female player after Kavita Akula and Sanjana Ramesh to receive a Division I basketball scholarship.
Having watched her father, Sukhdev Singh, who represented Punjab at the university level before an ACL injury ended his dream of playing basketball, coaching on the court, Harsimran decided to take up basketball at the age of 12 to fulfil her father’s dream of representing the country. The 17-year-old has since taken rapid strides to become one of the most talked about women basketball players in the country. “I fell in love with basketball while watching my father coach boys and now it has become my passion. Now I want to take a step further and play in the WNBA.”
Harsimran is now set to become the fourth India female player in college basketball in 2021-22 season joining Sanjana Ramesh, Vaishnavi Yadav, and Khushi Dongre.
“Playing for San Diego Toreros is a big step for me as it will help me hone my skills against stronger and bigger players. The facilities in San Diego are great and the team has a good record in D1. So it’s a huge opportunity for me. I believe this will help me achieve my dream of one day playing in the WNBA,” Harsimran said in an interview on Friday.
The 6’3” player is the first prospect from the NBA Academies Women’s Program to make it to the NBA Global Academy, Canberra in November 2019. Harsimran was named MVP at the third NBA Academies Women’s Program camp held in Mumbai in 2019.
Harsimran has represented India at the 3x3 Asian Championships held in Jakarta in August 2019. Harsimran was also one of the four Indian girls invited to the first Next Generation program at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa in April 2019, competing against top USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team members. She has also represented the country in Basketball Without Borders Asia in Tokyo last summer and in February this year, went to Chicago to participate in the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp during the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend.
Harsimran is going to the US on a five-year programme. “I found the university had a good history in NCAA and a good programme. I had interactions with their coaches and liked what they talked about, how they treated me. That is the reason why I picked San Diego,” said Harsimran.
The 17-year-old WNBA aspirant picks her all-round game as her strong point and feels her ability to adapt to the team’s needs will be her plus point. “I can play both as a center or a power forward—wherever the team wants me to play. I am working on her shooting and overall skills so that I can do well for my university team,” said Harsimran.