7-Foot Is Nice, Especially Twice
Brothers take their show to a tiny Pennsylvania prep school.
by Stephen Brodzinski
The old saying, ‘Big fish in a small pond,’ couldn’t be more true in this case. Imagine a small, all-boys boarding school in the beautiful mountains of Saltsburg, PA, with an enrollment of about 210 students. The Kiski School is known for being one of the top academic schools in the country, with rich traditions and successful alumni. The athletic programs have been competitive, but the basketball program has never achieved great success. This past summer, former Division I coach Daryn Freedman took over as head basketball coach, and within weeks, things changed. Meet Coach Freedman’s new front court, a pair of 7-foot brothers from Toronto, Canada.
Sim and Tanveer Bhullar are the first tandem of 7-foot brothers to play together, since Brook and Robin Lopez shined at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. Sim is a sophomore listed at 7-4, while his freshman brother Tanveer is listed at 7-2. Yes, we said freshmen and sophomore!
Both brothers are already highly ranked, with Tanveer being ranked among the top players in the Class of 2013 by some reports. For their enormous size at young ages, they both already possess an uncanny skill level and understanding of how to play the game. Head coach Daryn Freedman thinks the brothers are a special duo: “Their combination of height, strength, great hands and understanding of the game makes their upside unlimited.”
To put this phenomenon into perspective, on the all-time list of millions of high school and college basketball players, you may find a short page of former or current 7-0 athletes. Even in the NBA right now, you may be able to count the number of actual 7-footers on two hands. Every so often you will hear about a high school basketball player reaching the 7-0 horizon, but almost never as a freshman or sophomore. And while the pool of 6-8 guys seems to have deepened over the years, the sprinkling of true big men has seemed to be running dry. Coach Freedman talks about the luxury of not only having one 7-footer, but having two on the same team, “In my nine years as a Division 1 assistant, I never saw a freshman or sophomore in high school that big, with that ability. Now I have both Sim and Tanveer that I can coach and help develop.”
Sim and Tanveer will definitely be developed, being pushed by Kiski Prep’s new staff of former college and pro coaches. While they definitely need to get stronger, lose some weight, and gain some bounce, it is sometimes difficult to remember that they are so young. And having each other to play against on a daily basis, could be one of the greatest advantages for the young duo. While most vertically gifted high school athletes will have to practice against much smaller teammates, Sim and Tanveer will be able to play against another 7-footer every day.
Growing up in Toronto, Sim says the he and his brother were close from a young age: “It is nice to have someone to always talk to and relate to, and we always challenge each other to go harder.” The value in them challenging each other to go harder is seen in every practice. Watching Sim try to dunk on Tanveer, or seeing Tanveer hit a jump hook over Sim, is just flat out fun to watch. Tanveer also understands the importance of having his brother to play against: “Playing with and against Sim helps me develop as a basketball player. I get to practice my offensive skills on a defender who can challenge me and I also get to practice my defense on him.”
As they continue to improve, the brothers will be all over the national recruiting radar. They already garner tons of attention no matter where they go. At tournaments, parents pull out cell phones to take videos of the enormous pair, and people constantly ask for pictures. So it seems almost natural that Sim and Tanveer are tucked away in the hills of western Pennsylvania. Wanting to attend school in the United States, they chose the Kiski School for its great academic history, nurturing environment, and the belief that Coach Freedman and staff could maximize their potential. Though they stick out like a sore thumb walking through the scenic campus, they both feel at home in their new environment, and have already shown early success both on the court and in the classroom.
Hoping to continue this success, both Sim and Tanveer have big aspirations to match their big frames. They hope to play at high major DI schools and someday make it to the NBA. Coach Freedman, who served on the staff of both the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, sees this as a real possibility, “Both Sim and Tanveer have shown the ability to dominate when they are at their best. With a lack of quality centers in Division 1 and the NBA these days, as the two continue to improve, there will be a lot of people watching them on a daily basis.”
And many are already watching. The Kiski School has frequent visits from Division I coaches, checking out the potential. Besides Sim and Tanveer, there are roughly five Division I prospects on the roster right now, including 6-9 forward Stefan Jankovic who may be one of the top 10 players in the Class of 2012. For Sim and Tanveer, they will surely have many options down the road. For now, they are focusing on their first test of the season on November 21, against the highly respected Maine Central Institute (MCI) in a prep school tournament at Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut. While they are both still works in progress, the duo will soon be one of the most dominant frontcourts in the entire country. And don’t expect to see anything like them for a long time.