Last week, St. John’s Edge interim general manager Carl English predicted the National Basketball League of Canada team would soon reveal the signing of a player that would “generate a pretty big buzz.”
“He’s huge. Let’s just leave it at that,” added English.
It turns out English wasn’t kidding.
The Edge have announced they've signed centre Satnam Singh to a one-year contract.
The 22-year-old Singh (his full name is Satnam Singh Bhamara) is a former-second-round draft pick of the National Basketball League’s Dallas Mavericks and the first player born in India to drafted by an NBA team. He has experience in the G-League, which is seen as the NBA’s minor-league arm, and has represented India internationally in three Asian championships.
Which is all fine. But it’s not Singh’s bio that will have Edge fans talking.
It’s his dimensions; he’s 7-foot-2 and 290 pounds.
To put that in perspective, there were only two players who appeared in NBA games in 2017-18 — 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks and 7-4 Boban Marjanovic of the Detroit Pistons — who are taller than Singh.
He grew up in a small village in Punjab, but there was little, if any, basketball in his area and it was largely through the efforts of his father that Singh was able to turn his interest in the game into something more. By the time he was in his early teens, had grown to 6-11, was enrolled in a basketball academy in Punjab’s largest city and had played for India’s national junior youth team.
As a 14-year-old, Singh was awarded a scholarship to attend the basketball academy in Bradenton, Fla., operated by the sports marketing firm IMG. He spent five years in Bradenton but despite recruiting interest from some top colleges, he was prevented by academic issues, among other things, from becoming eligible for an NCAA Division One scholarship.
Rather than go the junior college route, Singh declared for the 2015 NBA draft and the Mavericks took him 52 overall, a moment captured in the Netflix-streamed documentary “One In a Billion,” which chronicled his basketball journey.
Singh never played for Dallas, but did suit up with the Mavs’ Summer League teams and appeared in 27 games over two seasons for their G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.
After his contract with the Mavericks expired, he returned to India and played there last season.
Singh becomes the eighth player on the Edge roster as the team prepares for the 2018-19 NBL Canada season, beginning in November.
English, who was the league MVP last season, is returning, as are his 2017-18 teammates and fellow guards Desmond Lee and Jarryn Skeete. In addition to Singh, the team has signed guards Drew Cushingberry, Kevin Zabo and Junior Cadougan and traded for the rights to forward and former league MVP Gabe Freeman, who has agreed to a contract.
The team also selected two players — Chris Early and Aaron Edison — in last month’s NBL Canada draft.
Teams have 12-player active rosters and can carry two more as inactives.