Sacramento Kings

India’s Satnam Singh stands tall in Kings workout

Kings executive Vlade Divac, far right, instructs, left to right, big men Stefan Nastic from Stanford, David Kravish from Cal and Satnam Singh of India on Thursday.
Kings executive Vlade Divac, far right, instructs, left to right, big men Stefan Nastic from Stanford, David Kravish from Cal and Satnam Singh of India on Thursday. rpench@sacbee.com

The Kings held their second predraft workout Thursday with one thing in mind – size.

The team invited three big men and put them through a series of drills to test their ability to play the post. The most prominent was Satnam Singh, a 7-foot-2, 290-pound center who is trying to become the first Indian-born player in the NBA and the second of Indian descent.

Despite his towering stature and broad shoulders, Singh, 19, feels the weight of his task.

“Yeah, it’s really a lot of pressure, on both shoulders,” Singh said, followed by a deep laugh that matched his low voice. “One shoulder is my family, (and) one shoulder is India.”

Singh said everyone he knows is counting on him to represent his country.

“I got my friend in India, (and) he said, ‘Just keep working hard over there, bring something great to India,’” Singh said.

Singh said the pressure fuels his fire.

“That’s why I’m here, because of India,” he said. “My fans, my family, my friends, everyone has (my back). They motivate me to do something great here.”

Singh moved to the United States when he was 14, and he has been working with former Kings interim head coach Kenny Natt at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where Natt is the director of basketball.

Singh averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks for IMG’s post-graduate team despite playing fewer than 20 minutes per game. Singh, who hasn’t played in college, declared for the NBA draft in April.

Since taking over as the Kings’ principal owner two years ago, Vivek Ranadive has been vocal about his desire to make the team a global brand, particularly in his native India.

Last year, the team signed 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar, who became the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA. Bhullar, 22, played in three games for the Kings but was released after his 10-day contract expired on April 12.

Bhullar, who was born in Toronto, played in 38 games for the Reno Bighorns, the Kings’ NBA Development League affiliate, and averaged 10.3 points and 8.8 rebounds.

Singh and Bhullar have talked several times in the past few months and have developed a relationship. Singh said he texted Bhullar recently, hoping to meet with him in Sacramento. Although Bhullar was at home in Atlanta, he offered encouraging words.

“(Bhullar) said, ‘Just work hard and just focus on your game, and focus on your coaches,’” Singh said.

Joining Singh at Thursday’s workout were David Kravish, a 6-9 forward from Cal, and Stefan Nastic, a 6-11 center from Stanford. Singh and Kravish also worked out together for the Celtics on Thursday in Boston.

“He’s big; he’s definitely big,” Kravish said. “He’s a load for sure.”

Though Singh is a long shot to make an NBA roster, he’s happy he’s getting a chance to achieve his dream.

“(Ranadive) said, ‘How are you feeling over here? You like to do summer camp?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I love it,’” Singh said.

The Kings will play again in the Las Vegas Summer League in July, but rosters won’t be finalized until after the draft on June 25. Last year,

Bhullar played four summer league games for the Kings, who won the title.

Jose Olivar: (916) 321-1231, @jpu_olivar

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