Punjab-born Asmat Kaur Taunque (17) has been selected by the California Institute of Technology for her extraordinary basketball skills. An alumnus of the National Basketball Academy (NBA) India Women’s Camp, Taunque will now be the fourth-ever Indian (and woman) to have played college basketball in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The other three women include Kavita Akula, Sanjana Ramesh and Harsimran Kaur (later in 2021).
Taunque was accepted into The Lawrenceville School in August 2019, and has also been a part of two NBA Academy India’s Women’s Camps, one in May 2018 and the other in January 2019. As a child, she was involved in playing for states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
The former captain of the Maharashtra U-16 squad, Taunque participated in the 2017 FIBA U-16 Women’s Asia Championship.
“It’s a proud moment for me and my family. I stayed in Chandigarh for five years before moving to other states with my parents. My journey to take up basketball as a hobby started from Chandigarh only,” she said.
Taunque confessed that the buzzer beater shot in the U-16 FIBA ASIA Cup 2017 final against Malaysia is the favourite part of her career.
“The NBA India programme has helped me in honing my professional capabilities, and helped me bag important scholarships. It’s a proud moment for me as an NBA Academy alumnus. I will be spending the next four years with the college team,” she explained.
Taunque was trained by Olympics gold medallist cagers Jennifer Azzi and Ruth Riley. Earlier, she received three scholarships (academics and sports) amounting to USD 1,65,000.
“My ultimate aim is to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Performing in the college’s team will be a key breakthrough. It won’t be easy, but my experience at the NBA academy and my build will surely help me to prove my mettle. Bagging a contract with the WNBA will be the happiest day of my life,” she concluded.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)