Indian basketball player Kavita Akula signs with Grand Canyon University in Kansas

Kavita Akula, an Indian basketball player aged 21, has become the first Indian-born female basketball player to get a full scholarship to a Division 1 (D1) college — Grand Canyon University — in the United States.D1 is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the US. D1 is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the US.

Akula is born in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, India and comes from a family of basketball players with her aunt and stepbrother being two of them.She was just 10 years when she made the winning shot for her state defeating Kerala and was then tutored by Rajesh Patel, India’s leading basketball coach making her one of the best female players in the country.

“I want her to stand on her own feet and lead a great life and that would be hard in this small hometown,” her mother said, hinting at the educational opportunities that her daughter wouldn’t receive in their hometown.

At the age of 14, Akula was one of the eight Indian recipients of a basketball scholarship to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida where she received the opportunity to be in one of the best sports training programs in the world and received an exceptional education.

Under the coaching of WNBA player Shell Dailey at IMG, Akula has learned that in the United States there are many more opportunities for female basketball players than back home.

Dailey said that she was impressed by Akula’s outside shooting skills and after a game of H-O-R-S-E, a shooting game in which participants earn a letter for each shot made, she appointed Akula from point guard to shooting guard. “I could see why [her coaches in India] would want her to play point guard, because she has excellent leadership skills and she is very clear in her directions,” Dailey said.

She was just 10 years old when she made the winning shot for her state defeating Kerala and was then tutored by Rajesh Patel, India’s leading basketball coach making her one of the best female players in the country. Akula had always wanted to either play the sport professionally or coach it in India but her mom wanted more than that. “I want her to stand on her own feet and lead a great life, and that would be hard in this small hometown,” her mother said to ESPN, hinting at the educational opportunities that her daughter wouldn’t receive in their hometown.

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