ESPN Magazine's "Next" issue is an annual look at the up-and-coming athletes across the world who are the next to dominate in their respective sport, with past honorees including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Adrian Peterson and many others.
Now, you can add IMG Academy basketball program's Satnam Singh to the list. The 7-foot-3 15-year-old Singh was featured in ESPN Magazine's 2012 issue. An excerpt:
"Four months later, IMG (the global U.S.-based sports marketing and management titan) and Reliance Industries (the largest corporation in India) announced the creation of a new sports and entertainment marketing company called IMG Reliance, which, as its first order of business, signed a 30-year contract with the Basketball Federation of India. Not only did the deal sew up all commercial rights to the game of basketball in India, it also allowed for the launch of an IMG Reliance-owned and managed professional basketball league. To get there, IMGR would attempt to build an infrastructure for basketball from the ground up: facilities, coaching, tournaments, school leagues, etc. IMG Reliance also announced it would provide full scholarships to train and go to school at the IMG Academy basketball program in Bradenton, Fla., whose alums include Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Al Harrington and Joakim Noah. The first recipients would be four boys and four girls -- the best Indian basketball players 13 years old or younger. No one, however, was quite sure how to find them. Meanwhile, Satnam continued to grow.
...In August, when Satnam first hit the courts at IMG, his English was nonexistent and so, the coaches thought, was his coordination. He'd barely done any strength training other than farm work.
At first, the coaches had to bend the English-only rule on the practice court. They feared he might hurt himself just running up and down the floor. But he was a quick learner. Within weeks, he knew enough English to get through any practice. And the physical improvement came even faster. He was running the court well and lifting weights like a man. He began to develop a decent lefthanded shot. He started to lose his fear of hurting people if he really banged the boards and used his size.
Satnam seemed unfazed by culture shock -- perhaps because of his native, cheerful groundedness, perhaps because of the well-funded, insular bubble that is the IMG Academy, which provides him and his fellow transplants, among other supports, with a full-time chaperone/translator. Or, maybe, it was just magic."