As Prabhnoor Singh dribbles with his left hand, his defender guards him with arms raised parallel to Bayport-Blue Point’s hardwood floor. Suddenly, the ball is gone, sent with a quick flick of Singh’s right wrist and spinning on a high arc toward the hoop.
Singh holds his high follow-through, hand hanging limp, right foot slightly ahead of the left. He wears No. 24, and if his finish reminds you of another No. 24, well, there’s a reason.
Two teammates begin to jog back on defense, the ball’s destination all but guaranteed.
That was how Singh converted the fourth of the eight three-pointers he buried Thursday afternoon in Bayport-Blue Point’s 71-64 loss to East Hampton.
According to statistics reported to Newsday, Singh entered Friday’s games fifth in Suffolk in average scoring (21.5 points per game) and tied for fourth in three-pointers made (35).
One year ago, he said he could not shoot with range. Four years ago, he picked up a basketball for the first time.
Singh was born in Batala, a city in the Indian state of Punjab. In a country known in the sports world for its cricket, Singh always was different. Though he grew up playing soccer, he said he watched the NBA frequently as a child and liked Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ No. 24.
He was fast and athletic but also tall, and as an eighth-grader, he was convinced to join his school’s basketball team.
“I started practicing like three times a day,” said Singh, a 6-4 senior guard. “Everybody was better than me and I was like, ‘I could be better.’ ”
Within the next year, Singh was a member of India’s Under-17 national team, which he said placed 10th in the 2012 Asia Championship. After his family immigrated to the United States for his sophomore year, Singh said he benefited from his national team experience.
“I was never pressured,” he said, “because I had experience against good competition.”
Singh exposed himself to more high-level competition when he transferred from Bayport-Blue Point to the Indiana Elite Basketball Academy in Richmond, Indiana, for his junior year. That year, Singh said he improved his three-point stroke.
“Sometimes we had to wear a weighted vest in practice and shoot,” Singh said. “I think that really helped me with my range. We used to do so many other drills that NBA shooters do.”
But Singh missed his family. He had spent his freshman year away from home, too, and he knew college — and, hopefully, college basketball — was around the corner. He missed his mother’s curry and other home-cooked meals.
“I ate so many things I didn’t like [in Indiana],” Singh said, laughing. “I don’t even know their names, to be honest.”
So that’s how the Phantoms got the scorer they needed after Tim Darby (17.5 ppg) and George Riefenstahl (15.9 ppg) graduated from last year’s Suffolk Class A champions.
“[Singh] fits very well because he can shoot the ball,” teammate Doug Niblock said. “He obviously can score, but he’s very unselfish about it.”
With Singh’s accurate stroke and dominant scoring ability, the Phantoms are 6-2 in Suffolk VI, a game behind first-place East Hampton and eyeing a repeat as county champions.
“Without him,” coach Charlie Peck said, “we would not be where we are. Absolutely not.”