SAN ANTONIO -- In March,
They had never before been around a major college team. But ... the Mountaineers had never been around anyone quite like
The elder brother, 17-year-old
On Monday at the FIBA Americas U18 tournament, held at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, there were three people who caused commotions in the gym. Spurs legend
"I've been in maybe a thousand [pictures]," Bhullar said, and he didn't mean in his lifetime -- he meant in the weeks since his Team Canada crew had begun training and come to the U.S. for the FIBA event. He doesn't exactly relish the photo ops; they're more something he
Bhullar tends to be more lively when he receives the ball on the block. He has surprisingly good hands for someone who's 7-4, and can drop in baby hooks or kick the ball back out of a double-team with ease. He's also capable of sealing off defenders with a drop-step and dunking from point-blank range. In a 122-89 loss to the U.S. on Tuesday, he logged 17 productive minutes off the bench, scoring 14 points, grabbing four rebounds and blocking three shots.
In the mind of Freedman, a former Division I assistant at Duquesne who also worked for the Sixers and Nets, Bhullar is already a player; he nearly averaged a triple-double (16 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocks) for Kiski this past season. Freedman was watching the FIBA games online and lamenting just how few post touches (and minutes) Bhullar was receiving. "I know I sound like a parent who thinks too highly of his kid," Freedman says, "but I've seen Sim dominate. If you give him the ball, and the opportunity to dominate, he'll dominate. He knows what to do with it in the post."
Freedman genuinely believes the best comparison for Bhullar is Lithuanian legend
Sim and Tanveer's father,
That's why the Bhullars transferred their boys to Kiski on the recommendation of a Toronto-area youth coach who knew that Freedman had just taken the job: They wanted Sim and Tanveer to have a better opportunity to develop their basketball skills, which could lead to college scholarships and -- who knows? -- the first-ever Indo-Canadians in the NBA. And so they trudge through early-morning cardio sessions, and afternoon practices, and evening shootarounds in rural Pennsylvania, in pursuit of that dream.
When they first ducked through the doorframe of Kiski's admissions office on their visit in 2009, Freedman was waiting for them, with a smirk on his face. "You couldn't help but smirk," he says. "I saw big guys when I worked in the NBA, but I hadn't understood they were going to be
He'd invited them to the prep school sight unseen, and had assumed, after receiving a scouting report that they were big men who "needed a lot of work," that they'd be beanpoles who weren't actually even 7-feet. Centers' attributes are often exaggerated in the recruiting world, but it turned out the Bhullars' size had been severely undersold. They were actually giants.
"The secretary from admissions didn't know what to say, either," Freedman recalls. "We'd never seen people that big before. And we were finally like, 'Well, let's just see what we can do with them.'"