Monmouth basketball makes history signing center from India

·2 min read

Monmouth went searching for a big man this offseason. And the Hawks ended up making history.

Because while Wednesday’s signing of seven-foot center Amaan Sandhu bolsters their front court, it also marks the first Division I men's college basketball scholarship for a player from India.

A product of NBA Academy India, Sandhu came to the United States in 2020 to play at First Love Christian Academy in suburban Pittsburgh. The 19-year-old will begin practicing with the team this week in West Long Branch, as Monmouth heads into its first season as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.

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While it’s unclear how much Sandhu can contribute as a freshman, he arrives as Monmouth tries to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Walker Miller, a 7-0 center who averaged 14.6 points and 5.8 rebounds last season as a graduate transfer from North Carolina, and 6-8 forward Nikkei Rutty, who transferred to Prairie View A&M after averaging 7.4 rebounds.

"We're so excited to add Amaan to our program," Monmouth coach King Rice said. "His journey to get to where he is now is incredible and we're glad he chose to come with us. To be one of the first players born in India to ever earn a Division I men's basketball scholarship is major for Amaan and his family and we can't wait to get to work with him."

Sandhu, a native of the Mohali district in Punjab, India, and a member of the Indian Men’s Senior National team that won a gold medal at the South Asian Games in 2019, hails from a basketball family. His father, Gurcharanjeet Sandhu, played for India from 1995 to 2002, and his mother, Rajinder Kaur, played in India for more than a decade. His sister, Aakarshan, has played for the Indian women’s national team.

In 2017, Sandhu joined NBA Academy India, and was the third player from the academy to earn a high school basketball scholarship in the United States when he went to First Love. There are also NBA Academies in Africa, South America and Australia.

While at First Love, Sandhu averaged 12.2 points and 8.1 rebounds, along with nearly two assists. He shot 35 percent from three-point range, and 62.1 percent from the field.

Sandhu joins a Monmouth front line that includes 6-10 junior Klemen Vuga, 6-10 sophomore Tadhg Crowley, 6-9 redshirt junior Jarvis Vaughan and 6-7 junior Myles Foster. That group combined to average 9.4 points and 6.3 rebounds last season.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Monmouth NJ makes college basketball history signing center from India