Indian teenager to train in Rome based basketball academy

Bengaluru, Dec 24 (IANS) India’s 14-year-old basketball player Harshwardhan Tomar has been selected for a three-month tryout period with Rome-based Stellazzurra Academy, it was announced on Thursday.

Harshwardhan caught the attention of the international scouts for the Asian Under-16 Championship in October in Jakarta. The 6 ft 9 inch player from Gwalior collected eight points and six rebounds per game with the Indian team.

Now, Harshwardhan has been given a three month tryout period with the Stellazzurra Academy to play and study. If he does well, Tomar could land a full scholarship at the academy, according to a release.

Harshwardhan flew out of India on Wednesday afternoon. He will be training with the academy team, and playing in some unofficial matches to gain exposure and adjust to the system in Europe.

Explaining the recruitment, Mauro Matteo, operations manager for Asiatic and Pacific Region at the Stellazzurra Basketball Academy said: “We have our network of talent scouts in Asia and one of them noticed this kid…Harsh (has) got physical skills and a very good shape to work on, with the target to build him as an international level player.”

Harshwardhan’s imminent international move comes on the heels of numerous Indian talents who have quietly moved abroad for exposure at the high school, college and professional level.

Besides the most well known example of 7 footer Satnam Singh Bhamara (from Punjab) who is now the first Indian national to be signed by a National Basketball Association (NBA) team in the United States, other equally inspiring examples include Amjyot Singh & Amritpal Singh (from Punjab) who are playing professionally in Japan.

There are also other Indian basketballers who have privately pursued opportunities at the school and college level. Prominent among them is Kavita Akula (India women’s point guard who has joined a junior college in Kansas) and Ambati Prudhvishwar Reddy (junior Indian men’s team who joined a Barcelona based Academy before switching to a high school in the US).

Speaking about the positive development, BFI president K. Govindaraj said: “This is a big step for Indian basketball and its players. This recognition will only help spread the game across India as more families gain a better understanding of the benefits of basketball. We wish Harsh the best luck and we look forward to his continued success.”

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