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Ryan Agarwal Q&A

Updated: Jun 11, 2022

Credit: Charles Mays

In 2015, Sim Bhullar and Satnam Singh both made history by becoming the first players of Indian descent to suit up in an NBA game. The game of basketball has continued to evolve as a global sport with players from various backgrounds competing as early as the grassroots level. Enter Ryan Agarwal, a first-generation American with Indian-born parents. Residing around the DFW area that is budding with basketball talent, the 6’7 forward has gained national recognition from scouting services and rankings, earning a collection of high major and Ivy League offers before committing to his dream school, Stanford University, in March.

In addition to being a high-level shooter, Agarwal possesses a strong basketball IQ and a game that meshes well in ball-moving and floor-spacing offensive systems. Having played with his independent AAU team 3D Empire (TX) since he was in middle school, Agarwal took what’s now become more of an unconventional path as top high school players now typically suit up for sneaker-affiliated AAU programs. However, investing in the culture at 3D Empire that Coach Shawn Ward built has certainly paid off as he and five-star teammate Anthony Black led the team to wins over numerous top tier teams, ultimately emerging victorious in The Circuit Championship to cap off their AAU careers. Before he heads to Stanford in the fall of 2022, Agarwal is focused on continuing to work on getting stronger and elevating his athleticism.

As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Agarwal reflected on his unique basketball journey and experiences with 3D Empire, what he’s looking forward to at Stanford, extending the path paved by South Asian basketball players to inspire the next generation, and much more.

For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Stanford commit Ryan Agarwal, from Coppell, Texas:

Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background?

Ryan Agarwal: Yeah for sure. I’m class of 2022. I’m committed to Stanford to play so I still got my senior year to go and then I’m heading out there. I play for my AAU team called 3D Empire (TX) and I play at Coppell High School (TX). I just love the game of basketball. I’m Indian so I’m a little bit different in the sense that you don’t see a lot of Indian players in the basketball community so I’m trying to make a little bit of a change in that scenario. And in that category too, kind of bring more diversity to what the game already has, even though it already has so much. Just continuing to hoop is really my dream and get as far as I can in the game. That’s pretty much all about me.

PI: How did you get to where you are today?

RA: So when I was in the third grade is when I started playing really competitive basketball. My parents were— I gotta give a lot of credit to them because with them being from India, a lot of parents don’t let their kids try a bunch of different sports. But my parents were really big on me trying every single sport and just following what I loved. So my sister played basketball and she’s like seven years older than me so she kinda set a little bit of like “okay, we’re playing basketball in our family” and so my parents put me in every sport possible: flag football, baseball, swimming, all of it. And they just kind of wanted to see which one I liked and I ended up liking basketball a lot. So when third grade came around, I started playing some AAU ball, so more competitive rather than just YMCA and I started getting more involved. And then middle school came around and I was playing for my school team. In 7th grade was when I switched over to my AAU program now, which is called 3D Empire and then ever since then, I started to get better and better as the years went on. And my freshman going into my sophomore year, I put a lot of work in and I got a lot of national recognition, more like college recognition and that put me on the radar for a lot of college scouts so that’s where I blew up in that scenario about trying to get to the next level, which my goal really going into high school was just to make JV as a freshman. That was my goal and then I made varsity as a freshman and then it just excelled from there. My sophomore year going into my junior year, that was when I picked up a lot of my offers. That whole year was when I was getting a lot of national recognition from Pangos camps, camps in Dallas, AAU circuits, school ball, all that stuff. So it helped me out with the college recruitment. Now recently, more a little bit on the NBA side of things too.

PI: It’s certainly gratifying to have your parents support you and provide opportunities for whatever you want to pursue.

RA: Exactly, it was definitely a blessing. I mean my sister and my brother also played sports. They’re both seven, eight years older than me so they’re way older than me. My brother actually played football in middle school. He got injured so he didn’t end up playing anymore, but my sister was playing [basketball] all the way through high school. She didn’t want to keep playing in college, but I think her playing and going through the AAU thing and everything helped my parents a little bit more understand as I got into it. I think they learned more and more about it over time so they were introduced to it by my sister so it helped out when I got in.

PI: How tall are your parents?

RA: So believe it or not, my brother is about the tallest one in the family [besides me] and he’s about 5’10, 5’11 ish. And my dad is about 5’8 and my mom is about 5’6 and my sister is like 5’1 so my whole family, no one is in the six foot [range] or anything so I’m just kinda taller than everyone in the family so it’s kinda weird. But yeah, they’re not too tall, at all.

PI: It definitely feels nice to be the tallest in the family.

RA: It helps me a lot. In the game of basketball, it doesn’t hurt to be 6’6 (laughs).

PI: What are your current measurements?

RA: My height is about 6’6, 6’7-ish. Weight, I was about 155 pounds, two and a half months ago, but I’m around 170, 175-ish pounds now. Kinda trying to increase before I get to college because college is a whole different level so continue to increase that. Been trying to stay on the right path for that. Wingspan, I haven’t measured in a while, so I’m not totally sure. And my shoe size is size 15.

PI: Do you have a specific weight goal you are aiming for before college?

RA: Yeah, around 185 and 195 pounds, somewhere in between there. I got a nutritionist so I’m on a good plan right now. Now that I’m committed, the good thing about that is I get to talk to a lot of coaches at Stanford and understand what they want me to…like I get a head start on what to work on and everything. I’ve talked to the strength and agility coaches there and he’s told me some goals to set so linking him with me and linking my nutritionist with me, I’m able to get on that path and continue doing so. So far I’m on the right path and trying to get to that 185, 195 range before I get there and I think I’ll be in a good spot to play early on.

PI: For those that aren’t super familiar with your game — what are your greatest strengths?

RA: So I’d say on the offensive end, a lot of people know me as a shooter, but coming to Stanford what the coaches want me to do and also I feel like I bring to the AAU and high school game now is being able to make the right play, make the extra pass, just be a good passer in general. I think I’m an underrated passer in that sense. Shooting the ball and making plays too. I’m still trying to work on putting the ball on the ground a little bit more and getting past defenders one-on-one with the ball in my hands, but I think I still have that in my bag a little bit more than people think. And defensively, being long and lanky I feel like I can get into the [passing] lanes pretty easily off-ball. And also rebounding, I think I’ve done a lot better job in the last couple years in rebounding and actually putting myself out there to get the ball rather than expecting my teammates or my big man to go get it.

PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?

RA: I think one of the things that comes with strength and agility is my defensive side of things such as staying in front of the ball. I think I’ve done a much better job than I have in the past and I want to keep getting better and better at it. And also just making plays with the ball in my hands, just getting past a defender one-on-one. Scoring with as little dribbles as possible so that’s kind of what I’m working on.

PI: Who do you model your game after and try to study on film?

RA: So I love watching Kevin Durant. He’s one of my favorite players to watch. He’s like one of the best players on the planet right now and of all-time, but I’ve kind of modeled my game after him in the sense of like body build and play style. But also another guy is Brandon Ingram, just the way he plays and the way he gets his shots off. And a little bit of Jayson Tatum, too. I like watching both of them play in the sense that both of them use their length to get past defenders and use that side-to-side to bait the defenders, get past them, and get their shots with a little bit of fade in their shots. I enjoy watching all of them play.

PI: Over the summer, you were selected to the Pangos All-American Camp. How was that experience?

RA: It was really amazing. You got to play against the top players in the country and with COVID and everything, it was kind of the first time in a while that I’ve been to a camp with such great players and a lot of the camps I was going to was a lot of the players in Dallas and I finally I was able to get on the national circuit and get a feel for the players across the country. So that was super fun to play and super fun staying in the hotel and getting all the gear and all that stuff. Super cool but camp ball is camp ball so there’s going to be a lot of ‘me-ball’ and all that, but I think the good thing about that camp was there was a lot of scouts and the people that were picking for the top-30, top-60 game didn’t really focus on most points or that. They kinda recognized who plays the right way and I think that was a big deal because a lot of people just try to score as many points as they can to get into the top game and try to show off. But really it’s all about who’s making the right play, which will translate to the next levels. I think that was a big part.

PI: Who did you enjoy playing with on your Pangos squad?

RA: Yeah, I enjoyed playing with Jaxon [Kohler]. He’s from Utah. He’s a big man. He’s about 6’8 ish. He’s extremely good. Super fundamental. His game is next level in the sense that many people can’t guard him no matter how big they are. It was extremely fun to play with him in the pick-and-roll scenario or just feeding it inside to him and kicking it back out. It’s always fun to see him go to work and I really enjoyed him play. And also Dereck Lively, he’s around 7 feet. He committed to Duke. He was just a freakish athlete. It was insane. I could just throw the ball anywhere and he would go grab it. He would never lose the ball. Both of them were really fun to play with and I’d love to do it again sometime.

PI: How would you describe your experience with 3D Empire?

RA: It’s been phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for a better team to be a part of. With us being an independent team, a lot of people just underrate us. I wouldn’t want it any other way because it’s always good to be the underdog and end up beating the teams that are known and everything. There are people that may say “oh it sucks that you have to pay for this and all that and you’re not sponsored,” but at the end of the day, if I’m getting the right recognition that I want and we’re beating teams that are shoe teams, it’s really not a big deal at all. The team that I play for, the reason I love playing with them is because our chemistry is what makes us. We may not have the biggest, tallest, most athletic guys, but the reason we’re ranked 10th or whatever in the country, beating a lot of these top teams in the country is because our chemistry is on a different level and we move the ball super well. It’s like every other game, a different person is scoring more. Everyone is eating so that’s why I think our team is next level. We share the ball super well which is what a lot of AAU teams struggle with, and I think that’s what has made us so successful. The development side of things at 3D Empire is also next level. I never even used to shoot threes when I walked into 3D so Coach Shawn and the whole staff at 3D would get mad at me. Not really mad but would encourage me to shoot threes and would really honestly get mad if I didn’t shoot threes when I was open and I would try to go in for a layup and they would be like “why would you not shoot that?” They want you to get into rhythm. Say you make two, they want you to come down, get into rhythm, and shoot another one. It’s all about playing freely and playing in a flow so that’s a huge part about the whole program.

PI: What’s it been like playing with your teammate Anthony Black?

RA: It’s huge. There’s nothing really better than having a 6’6 point guard. He sees the whole floor so if you’re open, he knows. He’s really good at attacking the basket so he draws in the defense a lot of the time, which opens up for me and if I’m able to shoot the ball really well, then it opens up the lane for him so we complement each other. We’ve been playing together since seventh grade in middle school ball and we play basically year round with school ball and AAU so we have that chemistry on level 100. I enjoy playing with him a lot and it’s super fun. Off the court, I was just with him earlier today getting some treatment and so we’re with each other almost all the time whether it’s driving to practice, driving to school, seeing each other at school, wherever it may be. We’re kinda always together so it’s super fun. It’s next level to have a friend that you play with year round so it just helps a lot.

PI: Congratulations on your commitment. What stood out for you in Stanford?

RA: Yeah, so Stanford was always a dream school. I think for a lot of people it’s just a dream school. It’s always seen as one of those schools that’s just so high up there. For me, I always thought it was an unreachable school. I was never really thinking early on I was going to play basketball in college. And then when it kind of got in my head that I was able to play, I still didn’t even think Stanford, it being a high major school so top of the line. I still didn’t even think so kind of when I started getting to talk to them and everything, Stanford was always my dream school, but to me I wasn’t going to pick it just to pick it. I still want to go through and make sure everything is good. So it being Stanford University number one and then after that, every box was just checked that I had any questions about. The fact that the coaching staff recruited me about a year and a half before they even offered me number one. So they were consistently talking to me and continued to talk to me through COVID and then they offered me and continued to talk to me a lot. I had a good relationship with Coach Haase and Coach Cohen. I already had gone on a visit before COVID so that was kind of already set. The fact that I was on campus and got to see everything. I got to watch a practice. I went over to Coach Haase’s house to have dinner with the team. I was able to do all of that before COVID even hit so that was an even bigger check mark. The playstyle is kind of how I play. They utilize shooters. T