Santhosh Nandakumar, a grade 12 student athlete at Walnut Grove Secondary, received Second-Team All Star honours in this years BC AAAA Provincial basketball championships. He credits his recent success to the “work (he) put in the off season and all the help from all the coaches..”
6’2 Nandakumar did not play very much last year as a grade 11 student on George Bergen’s senior squad. It didn’t look like that this season as Nandakumar emerged as a starter for the number 4-ranked Walnut Grove Gators. His stellar play and confidence was a crucial factor in leading the Gators to a third place finish at the BC championships this month. The senior forward’s work ethic enabled him to “stay committed..and get better.”
He averaged 24.5 points, 6 rebounds, 51.9% field goal percentage and a ridiculous 49.1% 3 point field goal accuracy rate over the 4 Provincial games. In the semi-final, the Gators fell short to eventual champion, Kelowna, despite 29 points from Nandakumar.
WHY I KNEW HE WAS GOING TO BE A STAR
The summer of 2012, I was playing pickup basketball at the Walnut Grove Community Centre. The opposing team needed an extra player and this quiet, lanky kid was shooting on the hoop adjacent from our court. I asked if he wanted to play on the other team. Little did I know how good of a player he actually was. Santhosh lit my pickup team up with an array of lightning quick released jump shots and high-arching teardrops and floaters. Later, after talking to him, he told me he was attending Walnut Grove Secondary in the fall, where I would be commencing my grade 12 senior year.
Nandakumar was born in Vancouver, then raised for 8 years in St.Louis, Missouri before relocating to Mississauga, Ontario. He spent 4 years or so there before his dad received a job back in British Columbia. Entering his ninth grade year in his first stint back in BC, I noticed something different about this kid.
He has a quiet demeanour, but is one of the most confident, polished sharpshooters I’ve met. Nandakumar spent countless hours in the gym afterschool, wether that was at the local community centre or in one of three gyms at Walnut Grove Secondary. The kid is a pure gym rat.
He’s one of those special kids, where his doubters are his motivators. Getting better is all he cares about.
Santhosh is also a straight A student, always amongst the best academic students in his grade. When asked about his future for basketball he replied:
“I’ll still play basketball because I love it.”