Bengaluru girl gets US basketball scholarship

India’s Sanjana Ramesh has received a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Women’s college basketball scholarship in the United States. DH File Photo

Bengaluru girl Sanjana Ramesh is charting her own path to success.

On Wednesday she took a giant step that made her only the second Indian female to receive a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Women’s college basketball scholarship in the United States.

Sanjana signed the National Letter of Intent with Northern Arizona University (NAU) women’s basketball team -- Northern Arizona Lumberjacks -- and will be the incoming freshwoman for the 2019-20 season in the Big Sky Conference.

“I am very happy and excited actually. I’ll be going to NAU in July next year,” Sanjana told DH.

Chhattisgarh’s Kavita Akula was the first Indian woman to achieve the feat. She played for Grand Canyon University in the tournament.

Lumberjacks head coach Loree Payne is looking forward to having a player of her calibre in the squad. “Sanjana is everything we’re looking for. She’s a joyful kid and very thankful for the opportunity to come here and she’s going to be a heck of a player. Her potential is limitless,” Payne said in a statement.

“With only two scholarships, we had to get two impact players and we did,” Payne said.

US’ Emily Rodabaugh was the other player to receive the scholarship from the University.

The 17-year-old hopes her latest accomplishment will encourage other hoopsters to make their career in the sport. “I want more people to come from India and go to colleges in the US, get a scholarship. I hope this proves as a source of inspiration,” she said.

Much of this success is down to the performance Sanjana displayed in the last one and half years. She was the captain of the India U-16 team that went undefeated in Division B and won promotion to Division A in the FIBA U-16 Women’s Asia Cup here in 2017.

Earlier this year, Sanjana and Vaishnavi Yadav were adjudged the Most Valuable Players (MVP) in the first-ever NBA Academy Women’s camp. A month later, Sanjana was bestowed with the same honour in the Basketball Without Borders’ camp in Noida. There she met coaches and enquired about scholarships in the US.

“I told them I was looking for colleges. They then contacted the coaches in the US and told them about me. The coaches then got in touch with me,” she said.

The knee injury that kept her from participating in the recently-concluded FIBA U-18 Women’s Asian Championship was a concern but Sanjana was grateful that the Lumberjacks coach kept faith in her.

“Even after I got the ACL tear they were very supportive and encouraging,” she said. “I’ve been speaking to them for the past few months and yesterday I decided on the college and signed the letter of intent.”

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Bengaluru girl gets US basketball scholarship

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