Bhullar makes history with Kings deal

AFP
Sim Bhullar of the New Mexico State Aggies (L) during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in Spokane, Washington
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Sim Bhullar of the New Mexico State Aggies (L) during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in Spokane, Washington (AFP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Sim Bhullar inked a contract with the Sacramento Kings on Friday to become the first player of Indian descent to sign for an NBA team.

Bhullar, who was born in Toronto, was a member of the Kings squad that captured the 2014 NBA Summer League title in Las Vegas.

"I've long believed that India is the next great frontier for the NBA, and adding a talented player like Sim only underscores the exponential growth basketball has experienced in that nation," said Kings owner Vivek Ranadive -- himself the league's first Indian-born owner.

"While Sim is the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA franchise, he represents one of many that will emerge from that region as the game continues to garner more attention and generate ever-increasing passion among a new generation of Indian fans."

The 7-foot 5-inch (2.26m) Bhullar played for two seasons at New Mexico State University, where he averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, one assist, 2.9 blocks and 25.3 minutes per game in 65 career games.

The 21-year-old was a two-time Western Athletic Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player as New Mexico State reached the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and 2014.

He was undrafted in June, but now will have a chance to compete in training camp for a roster spot behind center DeMarcus Cousins.

Since taking ownership of the Kings in May of 2013, Ranadive has focused on building the Kings and NBA brand in India.

During the 2013-14 season, the Kings televised over 20 live games in India and launched a website in Hindi to connect with Hindi-speaking fans around the world.