Identify young talent and develop coaches to grow basketball in India: NBA coach

Talent identification and exposure at a young age are crucial to the growth of basketball in India, says Roy Rana, assistant coach of NBA team Sacramento Kings.

“Talent identification is going to become hugely critical and that has to happen probably at an earlier age. I don’t know when it starts in India but I think we should look at 13 and 14-year-old kids and try to see who has potential. Giving them more exposure to the sport at a younger age would be helpful,” he said in an interaction.

“I think there needs to be a coordinated effort that there’s alignment in teaching the game across the country. Then, you know, coach development, the better you develop your coaches, the better you develop your talent. So post-development will be a huge part of helping the sport grow and thrive as we move into the future,” said Rana, a Canadian with Indian roots.

He also felt there is a lot of talent in Indians who are settled abroad.

“So, you know, if we look at what’s being done internationally by Indians, I think that way we can be confident that it can be done domestically as well,” he added.

Rana’s team Sacremento Kings have already resumed light training despite the COVID-19 still wreaking havoc across the world.

“The NBA has done a tremendous job of leading this. I think I would say so far it’s going very smoothly and the players and staff are equally as committed to creating the safest environment, we possibly can for our players and that’s being done every day.

“So I think it’s off to a pretty good start. Obviously it’s a new normal, it’s different…,” he said.

In his first season with the Kings, Rana, who guided Canada to a gold medal in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup last year, described the Kings’ run in the League so far as a ‘roller coaster ride’ which started with pre-season games in India.

He said playing in India was incredible and gave them lots of great memories and special moments.

“It was incredible. Lots of great memories and special and powerful moments. Probably the first game that we played, having all those school children in the arena, I think is a legacy moment. It will help build a lot of young fans, young dreamers…,” he said.

The NBA Academy India, part of the NBA’s youth development initiatives in the country, which opened in May, 2017 is an elite basketball training centre in Greater Noida where over 20 players receive training and also secure scholarships.