For viewers of the New Mexico State Aggies, it’s hard to miss Sim Bhullar. The 7’5” forward for the Aggies has a chance to continue his breakout with a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament. This could mark only the beginning in Bhullar’s path to become the first prominent NBA player of Indian descent.
Rant Sports own Kris Hughes highlighted Bhullar in an article two years ago. At that time, the obvious comparison was comparing Bhullar to Yao Ming. The comparisons come from the two’s similar size and their international impact on the sport. The NBA opened an office in India and has been expanding its sponsorships and merchandising efforts in the country.
Bhullar was recruited by several Big East schools as a high school player. Georgetown, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Syracuse all recruited Bhullar. Eventually, Bhullar committed to Xavier University. When he found out he would not play his first season, Bhullar transferred to New Mexico State. Had he not transferred, Bhullar would have had to pay for his first year of tuition.
As an Aggie, Bhullar has come on strong of late and helped New Mexico State earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. In the conference championship, Bhullar had 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. The team has begun to rely heavily on minutes from the freshman center.
In 34 games, Bhullar averaged 24.3 minutes of playing time. In the first seven games, Bhullar failed to crack the 20 minute mark. In the 34 games, Bhullar has averaged 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. Bhullar broke the team single season record for blocks.
Along with his dominant rebounding and defensive presence, Bhullar is a great shooter. With a .623 field goal percentage, Bhullar led the conference in shooting efficiency. Bhullar ranked 11th in the NCAA in field goal percentage. Bhullar will need to improve his free throw percentage (47%) or teams might start fouling him on purpose, aka Hack a Shaq.
As a resident of Toronto, Canada, Bhullar also competed for Team Canada in the FIBA Americas U18 Tournament. In a game against the dominant United States, Bhullar had 16 points, four rebounds and three blocks.
New Mexico State has a chance to cause some damage in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. If you have a chance, tune in to a game and catch the next dominant international big man. India and Canada will be watching, you should too.