NBA Academy launches in NCR with an eye towards grooming talent for the big leagues

The new facility opened on Tuesday with 21 youngsters chosen for the first batch of academy entrants.

The National Basketball Association announced the official opening of NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center on Tuesday in the National Capital Region for the top male and female prospects from throughout India.

Twenty-one male basketball players in the age ranges of 13 to 17 were selected following the NBA-ACG Jump, a talent hunt conducted at six centres throughout India. These players will be fully funded for the duration of the stay at the academy, during which time they will be trained by coaches from the NBA.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum also announced that the strength of the initial batch would be 24 and that a search was on for three female candidates to join the existing 21 members of the academy.

Four coaches for the academy

The 21 players take to the court at the Academy. (Image credit: Arka Bhattacharya)
The 21 players take to the court at the Academy. (Image credit: Arka Bhattacharya)

The academy will start off with four coaches, three for the general program and one former WNBA player exclusively for a proposed elite girls’ program.

The technical director of the academy will be Ray Farrell, who will oversee all aspects of oncourt and offcourt development. Farrell has served as a personal trainer and coach for the Dallas Mavericks and has close to 36 years of experience in conducting basketball camps globally.

Jacques Vandescure, who will serve as the Player Development Coach was seen taking drills with the 21 kids during the launch. Vandescure, a former professional player in Belgium has also served as the African Basketball Scout for the San Antonio Spurs.

Todd Gates, the Strength and Conditioning coach, has coached at the NCAA level (American collegiate basketball) for 10 years. Jennifer Azzi, who will be based in the US, will serve as the Girls’ programme technical director is a former WNBA player having been with three franchises Detroit Shock, Utah Starzz and San Antonio Silver Stars from 1999 to 2004 and is also a former Olympic gold medallist in 1996.

‘We were asked not to go for the selection’

The first batch of the academy has a curious mix of characters with only four of the 21 candidates coming from the major metros (Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune). The entrants are in the age range 13 to 17 with varied heights starting from Rishab Jaiswal and Shaurya Kohli, five feet eight inches to the 14-year old Amaan Sandhu, who stands at six feet nine inches.

Interestingly, four of these players were from the famed Ludhiana Basketball Academy which has produced talents such as Satnam Singh Bhamara and Palpreet Singh Brar. A conversation with the kids revealed that they were not permitted by the coaches to apply for the ACG-NBA Jump programme.

One of the prospects, who did not want to be named mentioned that initially he and five of his friends from Ludhiana wanted to apply but they had been denied permission to travel to Delhi for the selection process. “Two of them then pulled out but all four of us who got on a train were selected.”

Can the NBA Academy make the difference?

He also spoke about the conditions of the Ludhiana Academy. Also featured in the film One in a Billion, the story of Satnam Singh Bhamara who made it to the D-League, the lack of professionalism in running the Ludhiana outfit became evident through the conversations.

“The food that we got wasn’t up to the mark. Those who couldn’t afford to stay outside suffered a lot as the living conditions including the beds weren’t proper,” said one of the ex-Ludhiana Academy players.

Although the tale isn’t exactly a novelty in the Indian sporting ecosystem, it gives a clear indication on the standard of basketball facilities in the country and the priority of administrators, determined to hold onto the best talent but unwilling to provide them with the best of infrastructure.

With the NBA finally stepping in with its first academy in the country after launching three in China, it will be interesting to see where these 21 prospects end up. Some of them will graduate in two years’ time, while the others will spend time at the Academy till they are deemed old enough to play collegiate basketball or qualify for a recognised basketball league.

It remains to be seen if the NBA’s intervention can provide the spark that the sport in the country so desperately seeks.

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Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

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Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and Logitech X300 Bluetooth Speaker at 58% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of and not by the Scroll editorial team.