Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant will visit India next Thursday to further fortify the growing popularity of basketball in the country and also serve as a coach to some of its top players. The first order of business for the NBA champ and 2017 Finals MVP will be stopping in New Delhi to donate two brand-new basketball courts to the Ramjas School as part of the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.
This summer, Satnam Singh will return to the homeland to represent the Indian national basketball team in the FIBA Asia Championship. “In the last three years when I was drafted to Dallas, I’ve never been back home,” he said. “Becoming the first Indian-born player who gets drafted, other kids they can see we have a great opportunity, we can go play in the NBA.”
The elite training center, located at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Delhi National Capital Region, will train top male and female scholarship players selected through a countrywide search with NBA-level coaching. India, which has more than 1.3 billion people, has the potential to be “the next China for the NBA,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told ESPN.
The NBA Academy, a league-funded residential program that provides prospects with training and school, hopes to add to that list even though basketball is a relatively new sport in India. “Look, clearly cricket is the No. 1 sport here in India,” said Tatum, who attended the academy’s opening with NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco. “So, the cultural challenge is that growing up, basketball wasn’t necessarily taught and played at the youth level. But we are actually investing a ton into making sure that more kids are being given the opportunity to play basketball, particularly in school.”