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Could seven-foot, four-inch Sim Bhullar be Toronto’s next great hoop dream?

With the Great Wall of Yao and the Big Aristotle planning their vacations as the NBA’s most recent retirees (that’s Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal, in case you weren’t sure), pro basketball has been left with a gaping void (about seven feet wide on its side) for a towering centre. That void might one day be filled by Toronto-born baller Sim Bhullar, whose seven-foot, four-inch frame is lumbering its way toward basketball stardom.

According to the New York Times:

Only a few who follow college basketball recruiting actually know who Bhullar is: a 17-year-old from Toronto who orally committed to play for Xavier…

But as untrained eyes from airport terminals to religious landmarks have shown, Bhullar’s basketball potential is obvious. No matter what level he rises to, Bhullar is poised to become the world’s first prominent men’s basketball player of Indian descent.

“I think it would be a blessing,” he said, “to be the first from an entire country to go to the N.B.A. and be a role model.”

The Chinese star Yao Ming, a former No. 1 pick, is retiring from the Houston Rockets, so it is easy to infer that Asia is ready for its next great basketball ambassador… Bhullar’s emergence would be a boon for increasing the popularity of the game in India, with a population about 1.2 billion, including five million who play basketball.

Besides becoming a subcontinental sensation, Bhullar’s rise could help reinvigorate Toronto basketball fans who have had little to get excited about in recent years. With online videos that show off the 17 year-old’s uncanny ability to make a regulation 10-foot hoop look like a Fisher Price plaything (apparently he can dunk on his tiptoes) and the fact that he’s another seven-foot-plus ball-playing brother to boot, Bhullar is a glimmer of hope on Toronto’s otherwise bleak basketball horizon. Of course, just watching interviews with the mumbling teen reminds us to keep our cool—he’s clearly got a lot of growing up to do, both as a interviewee and a baller. Still, he’s got time. We can’t wait to see how he turns out.

So Much Potential, So Far to Go for Young Basketball Prospect [New York Times]

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