The National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday inaugurated its first ever NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) to trigger the game’s growth in the country.

The very first batch at the academy comprises of 21 boys in the age group of 12 to 17 years, who will also receive scholarships while training at the training center.

The boys were selected after a 3-month nationwide basketball talent search.

“I think it (the academy) is unbelievable. There are world class facilities here. From the Olympic size swimming pool to the world class gym to the strength and conditioning centre and the cafeteria where the chef prepares customised food for each kid, this is one of the best facilities in the world,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum told IANS.

“They have just started. We have just opened the academy and the boys have arrived here over the last three to four weeks. But it is a residential program so they live here and go to school here,” he added.

Tattum also said that the main objective of the NBA Academy India is helping the trainees to reach full potential through which they can make a further name for themselves in the game.

“We work with every single one of the kids and it is a customised plan. Some kids may go on to play college basketball in the USA, some may go to Australia, So in the NBA Development league, or to the European league.

“We will assess every kid at the time they are about to graduate to determine their best possible career path. There are multiple paths. Its not either you make it to the NBA or you don’t. There are lots of different paths that you can take in this game,” he said.

“There might be some kids whose full potential is they might go on to play college basketball and for some kids it might be becoming an NBA All-Star.

“Success for us would be knowing that a particular kid reached hi full potential,” he added.

He also mentioned the standards of training that will be given to these young talents.

“The similarities are the training, the access that the kids have to world class NBA style coaching and the strength and conditioning trainers. We know what it takes to get a player ready to make it to the NBA and reach their full potential. Every one of the kids in our academy is going to have an access to that,” Tatum said.

“We have scouted six million kids through the Reliance Foundation and we have trained 5,000 physical education teachers. There are seven kids here who have actually taken part in our Junior NBA program.

 “Think of it as a kind funnel. We are getting six million kids who were part of the Junior NBA. The best among them were part of our basketball schools from where we selected the best for the NBA academy,” he added.

“We may build more academies in India. We can also look at expanding this present academy. We can bring kids from around the country. So its not necessarily the physical location because this is a world class facility. One of the possibilities is that we expand the number of kids that we bring here.”

“The programme is for any kid from around the country.”

Tatum is also focused on making sure that an Indian player makes it to the NBA in the future.

“Obviously if we had an (Indian) NBA player, it would be enormous. When you look at what (former NBA star) Yao Ming did for basketball in China. We saw how NBA’s popularity increased in India when Satnam Singh was picked in the NBA draft,” he said.