Originally published on 6 Dec, 2017 on UBA India.
"I've always wanted to train in the US. This is a dream come true. Very happy to get a chance to learn something new in the UBA US Pro Performance Camp. ‘Isme maza aayega’ (This will be fun)” - Yadwinder Singh (Haryana Gold)
As one of India's most experienced veteran stars, Yadwinder has been on the national circuit for almost a decade and half. He has represented India multiple times and has made a name for himself with his tenacity and hustle. He made his UBA debut in Season 4 with Haryana Gold, and immediately made his presence felt on both ends, giving his team a solid presence to count on.
Yadwinder averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in UBA Season 4, and he was a UBA Season 4 All-Star whose impact went way beyond the box score. He was the first to every loose ball, as he's made the habit of doing for years, and his leadership on and off the court tangibly uplifted his teammates' play.
Before Yadwinder committed to basketball as a youth, he dabbled in the discus throw. Traces of that are still occasionally visible in his outlet passes. He has a very distinctive style of play, one which is predicated on picking and choosing his spots. He is more than happy to cede the offense to his teammates, choosing to exert double the effort on the defensive end. "We may have good scorers on our team, I take pride in defense and hustle and trying to ease the load on the scorers so they can be more efficient."
One would think that after having so many miles under his legs, Yadwinder might have lost a step. On the contrary, he is as tenacious as ever, battling for every possession like it's his last and never showing any signs of fatigue. "I also get tired like any player, but I am driven by wanting to help my team win."
The willingness to dig down in the trenches and do the unglamorous work is part of Yadwinder's drive to help his team win. He has a similarly strong drive to want to help the younger generation of basketball players achieve their potential, another reason why he's eagerly looked forward to the UBA US Pro Performance Camp. “It will be really good to learn something new for myself and also so I can pass it on to the younger players.”
Yadwinder passes on more than just basketball experience to the youth. If he sees a young player working hard and in need of a leg up, he doesn’t think twice before getting shoes and gear for him to pursue his dream. “We can afford to help them now, and these kids will be the future of Indian basketball after we are gone.”
While Yadwinder has played at the highest level for India in multiple FIBA Asia Cups, he feels that playing in the UBA is something that is a different ballgame altogether. “This is such a new experience, feels like the NBA style. The game is really fast and very high scoring. Teams are scoring over 100 points per game. And that is possible because the players are pushing their fitness levels higher. 'Fit hoga tabhi 100 score hoga'"
While Yadwinder has played domestically for Railways and ONGC, playing in the UBA gave him and his fans a chance to see him in action from a whole new perspective. “Having our friends and family watch us play in UBA on live TV is a really good feeling.”
Yadwinder is another star from the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, part of the first batch along with UBA veteran Jagdeep Bains. Having learned the game under the late Dr. Subramanian, Yadwinder wishes for his teacher to have been around now. “It is hard to find such a coach in India. It was his dream to see a professional basketball league in India. He used to live in the future with high ideals and thoughts. He left earth too early, there was so much he had to see happen (after 2013).”
Now Yadwinder himself has taken on a role of mentoring the young players. He likes seeing how in UBA even the young bench players come in with tenacity and hunger equal to the starters. “If some bench player comes in for a few minutes, he also goes all out for that time. This is really good for the 'kids', their fitness levels will be really good.”
Yadwinder is a player who has seen basketball evolve as a sport and grow in India. His own game has seen an evolution from when he first started playing. “Early in my career I used to play the four or five on court. Now I feel I can play two and three as well if needed and defend all five positions as well.”
Training in the UBA US Pro Performance Camp, this is also Yadwinder’s first trip to USA, something he had dreamt of doing from a young age. “Training in the US is on another level. After Palpreet came back from his NBA G-League camp in 2016, I could see that he had matured very quickly. One can gain a lot of experience from training with top coaches in the best facilities.”
With one of India’s most experienced stars as Yadwinder to have such an open mind to continuously learn new things about the sport, only gives the younger generation all the more to learn from veterans like him as they grow. The future is shining for Indian basketball with everyone doing their part to help grow the game.
The 3rd Annual UBA US Pro Performance Camp is seeing some of the top UBA players and others from around the world participating in an intense, two-week camp designed to maximize their skills as a basketball player, increase their overall strength as an athlete and learn to train in ways which they can maintain when returning home.
Stay tuned to read more about the top UBA players going to train abroad in the UBA US Pro Performance Camp.