ON 10 DECEMBER, in the second month of the 2013–2014 high school basketball season in western Florida, the IMG Academy Varsity Blue took on the Oldsmar Christian Eagles. As IMG, one of the United States’ best sports specialty schools, stepped out onto the Eagles’ home court, the Varsity Blue coaches surprisingly did not select Satnam Singh Bhamara, the team’s centre and “big man,” to tip off. Instead, Bhamara hung back patiently, a bulky, obtrusive presence on defence. His wide-featured face, still younger than his athletic seven-foot-two inch frame, followed the ball’s movement as IMG lost the tip-off, setting the tone for much of the first half of the game.
Bhamara managed to block an opponent’s lay-up in the opening play, but otherwise seemed sluggish during the first few minutes of action. Lumbering up and down the court, he missed three consecutive shots: two lay-ups and a short floater. His coach took him out soon into the first quarter; Bhamara sat on the sidelines for most of the first half, while the rest of the starting line-up stayed on court. IMG lost the game by a narrow margin, but Bhamara did manage a personal season-best: fifteen points and twelve rebounds—impressive numbers given his limited playing time.