After he helped put New Mexico State back on the college basketball map, Sim Bhullar's work here is done.
The 7-foot-5 sophomore center from Toronto, Ontario made his long speculated decision to turn pro official on Friday after three years in Las Cruces, the past two in an Aggies uniform. If drafted on June 26, Bhullar would be the first NMSU player to hear his name called since Randy Brown was selected No. 31 by the Sacramento Kings in 1991.
Interestingly enough, the Kings are now owned by Vivik Ranadive, the NBA's first Indian-born owner, which adds to the intrigue behind Bhullar's decision. If he were to stick on a NBA roster as a second-round pick or an undrafted free agent, it's widely believed he would be the first player of Indian heritage to play in the NBA, which could tie a franchise and the NBA to a population of over 1 billion people.
But that's just one of the likely factors that Bhullar considered in the days following the Aggies loss to San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament this past March.
The truth of the matter is that nobody knows if Friday's choice is the right one. That likely won't be decided until Bhullar's playing career is over.
Even if Bhullar were to sign a contract in a quality league overseas, he would be competing against big men that would better prepare him for a possible shot in the NBA. It's not the end of the world if he's not on a NBA roster a year from now.
How much would another year at NMSU improve his draft stock?
Critics quick to point out Bhullar's lack of conditioning as a reason he wouldn't be a successful pro are missing the fact that after two record-setting seasons at NMSU, Bhullar gains nothing from going against 6-foot-5 post players in the Western Athletic Conference. Or that college players are limited to eight hours a week with the NMSU coaching staff this time of year. Since the Aggies' season ended, Bhullar has been working out with former NBA coach John Lucas in Houston, preparing his body for pre-draft workouts that will become open to him after May 2 as a declared underclassman.
Men of Bhullar's stature don't have a proven track record of long-tenured careers, at least not in the NBA. He suffered a foot injury during his redshirt season of 2011-12, then missed five games this year with another foot injury.
Another injury at the college level could literally cost Bhullar his future.
Regardless of Bhullar's professional destination, his impact at NMSU can't be understated.
Off the court, you could argue that during his brief stay in Las Cruces he was the face of the basketball program, or at least co-heading it with head coach Marvin Menzies, whose national profile has likewise increased over the past three years as well.
Sports Illustrated spent a weekend in Las Cruces this season working on a piece that centered on Bhullar and younger brother Tanveer, who at 7-foot-3, figures to fill his brother's shoes.
Sim Bhullar was the center of attention from Day 1 this season and he played his best game of the year on the NCAA Tournament stage. He broke his own school record for blocked shots in a single season with 101 this year. Without Bhullar in the lineup, the Aggies held a 3-2 record with opposing teams shooting 45 percent from the floor. For the season, NMSU opponents shot 40 percent from the field.
Bhullar has done it while staying on course for his college degree.
NMSU hasn't had a player drafted into the NBA for 23 years. In reality, the program couldn't ask for a better possible representative than Bhullar, who represented the school well the past two years while bringing a proud Aggie hoops tradition back to life.