Bains will be making history this fall as he becomes the first Indian-born player in Division 1 basketball.
Sukhjot Bains is on his way to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Green Bay Phoenix are a division 1 NCAA team that plays in the Horizon League.
Bains is listed at 6’6” and has played all around the court with shooting guard being his primary spot. As a former standout for the Tamanawis Wildcats High School team, he was voted as BC’s No. 1 senior boys basketball player in 2014. He has played the previous two seasons at Northwest College for the Trappers and is now joining Green Bay in what will be his junior season.
Bains will be the first division 1 basketball player born in India. There are a number of players whose parents were born in India but they were born in North America. Bains however, will be the first to have been born in India. He grew up in Canada’s Lower Mainland region and started playing soccer as a child but it was his father who got him into basketball. From a young age, Bains has been breaking through the ceiling to the next level at each stage of his career.
A core strength of Bains is his positional flexibility. Given his mix of height and athleticism, he is able to move up and down the lineup. “I played all five positions in high school. It was a tough transition to junior college with more positional restrictions and limitations. Once I got used to it, in my second year I gained more trust and played more positions. I was defending all over the court.”
To play big time collegiate ball, it’s not just about being good at just one thing. From Bains’ time playing in the States, he has come to learn the highest values placed on players from coaches and scouts. “Everyone needs to dribble, pass, shoot at Wisconsin and that’s one of the reasons they wanted me because I can do all those things. It also helps that I can do this with my size. They like my defensive capabilities and versatility.”
Bains learned that he needed to establish himself as a complete player. He reflected on his transition from being a player whose defense was questionable to one with a well-rounded game that provides stingy defense along with the offensive firepower.
"My defense improved a lot over the years. In high school, I didn’t really have to worry about defending too hard, [I was] more focused on my offense. But once I went to junior college, the importance of strong defence was hammered into all the players. It’s not just about playing the right way in a system. You [have] got to be able to handle man-to-man. I have put in a lot of work on the defensive side of the ball and now I am a much better defender since high school. The key to transforming a weakness into a strength is just about having a high work ethic as you keep pushing yourself until you reach your goals”
This journey that Bains has been on has come with trials and tribulations. Only the best of the best can compete at the highest collegiate level in the world, and players from Canada are few and far between. There aren’t many scouts in Canada so exposure to big schools is difficult for Canadian players. Hopefully with more Canadians making it to the NBA as well as local kids like Bains heading to a D-1 school, this can open up more opportunities for kids in the future.
“It was a long process. I was seen as one of the best in high school, but it takes a lot of work to get to D-1. I didn’t anticipate having to go to prep school for a year and then junior college for two years just to get a shot. But I took that and kept striving for the next level. I was constantly putting in work in gym in my second year to get to where I wanted to go.”
Bains has a very tight schedule that runs year round. However, he is able to find time for the AthElite basketball academy he grew up with. Bains likes to “help run camps and practices, give back [in] any way I can when I’m available. These programs helped me a lot when I was developing and I want to help the next generation grow the game.” He hopes to pass on his hunger and determination to future talents.
Bains will be making history this fall as he becomes the first Indian-born player in Division 1 basketball. He has worked for every opportunity he’s earned and has blown past expectations. As an incredibly humble person, Bains mentality and work ethic will fuse with his athletic ability to surely make a significant impact next year and beyond.