BENGALURU: Around four months ago, 17-year-old Sanjana Ramesh had to go under the knife for a ligament tear in her knee that she suffered during the William Jones Cup in July. She is currently in her recovery phase and will take to the court early January. The Bengaluru girl could not feature in the Asian Games for the same reason. However, her pain of missing out on the quadrennial event reduced to some extent when Ramesh created history last month.
She signed for Northern Arizona University, and will play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 next season. She became the second woman born in India, after Kavita Akula, to attain Division I College basketball scholarship.
Young hoopsters from all around the globe dream of playing in the NCAA, which is a great platform for them to excel. Ramesh is fortunate to be one of them and has dreams of playing in the Women’s NBA or some European Leagues. “I am excited and happy to be the second from the country to do so and hope there will be more people in the country to head to the US in future. I want to improve as much as I can and excel as a player. The process is going to be gradual. After four years of college, I want to try for the WNBA and also other European Leagues,” Ramesh told CE.
However, getting a scholarship did not happen overnight. The youngster led India’s U16 team in FIBA’s U16 Asia Championship Division B in 2017 and the team achieved promotion to A Division. She was instrumental in helping her team shine in the competition. Despite her expected busy schedule next year in the USA, she is keen to represent India whenever required.
That U16 outing was just a start for Ramesh and she participated in the Basketball Without Borders Asia programme at NBA Academy India in Greater Noida. The event saw participation from countries such as Australia, China and other countries. Despite playing against some top young hoopsters, she managed to win the title of the 'Most Valuable Player' as well.
It was during the camp, where she approached the right personnel and acquired details about the process to get scholarship. She followed instructions, given to her. After an impressive show in the camp, word about her basketball skills got relayed to US.
“I spoke to some of the coaches in BWB Asia about my interest in getting a scholarship in USA. In fact, it seems, they spread the news about me in the USA, and college coaches, who seemed to have got hold of my footages from the BWB Asia camp, reached out to me,” said Ramesh, who is a Class 12 student of Delhi Public School, South, in the city.
Attaining a scholarship is a huge achievement for her and Ramesh is pleased to have picked up basketball as a 12-year-old. She was also interested in becoming a badminton or a football player. But Ramesh has to be fit and take precautions to avoid injuries to excel in sports. In the U16 Asian Championships too, she fractured her toes and suffered an ankle injury, but she takes these things positively. “My biggest problem has been injuries, overcoming them makes me stronger and I aspire to do well.’’