Sanjana Ramesh, a sign of hope for Indian-born players

Posted by freemexy on April 12th, 2021

In Bangalore, India, a barefoot 12-year-old girl spent an hour cleaning dirt and grime off a basketball court. The air was musty from the mud and cow manure surrounding it — that's how Sanjana Ramesh remembers 2014. She practiced with an orange ball that hardly resembled a real basketball, perfecting her dribble-drive and famous crossover that had boys her age falling to the ground, holding their ankles.To get more latest entertainment news, you can visit shine news official website.

Her feet were riddled with blisters and her knees were bloody from diving after basketballs on the hard concrete — but she didn't care. That court, and her determination, helped her become what she is today: the crown jewel of Indian women's basketball.

Fast forward to 2021, Sanjana is over 9,000 miles away in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is a 6-foot-tall, gangly 19-year-old sophomore at North Arizona University and a member of the women's basketball team. Sanjana is a scholarship player who doesn't even do her own laundry anymore. She has an affinity for Cane's chicken and craves the "Caniac Combo" whenever she can get her hands on it. She's come a long way since she was a barefoot girl playing basketball on a dirty court.
Sanjana is an anomaly — she is just the second Indian-born woman to play Division I basketball and represents the changing of the guard between the new generation and the old, where the idea that academics aren't the only avenue to success for Indians. On the court, she carries not only her own ambitions but the aspirations of young Indians who hope to play basketball at the next level."It's not only about how I am performing," she said. "Other people are watching me and trying to understand this all. I am trying to do the best I can, so I tell myself just do the best and everything else will follow."

Sanjana follows Kavita Akula, a recent graduate of Grand Canyon University, who was the first Indian-born women's basketball player to receive a scholarship. No Indian-born women have made it to the WNBA, and the same is true for men at the NBA level. I am a little nervous… because people look up to me and see what journey I am taking and how I am performing in tournaments and games," Sanjana said.

Sanjana said she first started playing basketball against her older brothers — never giving them an inch to score a basket, even at 12 years old. Throughout the years, she played games with reckless abandonment, diving after loose balls, hounding the opposing players on defense, and being a thorn on every offensive player's side.

Her favorite memory? Her primary school team was trailing 20-2 when she entered the game off the bench. Her play injected a much-needed shot of dopamine into her lifeless team. She never glanced at the scoreboard and when she missed a layup in the closing seconds, she collapsed to the ground in disgust. Her teammates ran to her side in celebration and a confused Sanjana looked up to see that her team had won by 12 points.

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