At first glance Varun Ramasamy is the classic South Indian good boy: he tops his class, has a deep interest in science and loves spending quality time with his family. His sister is even a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. But add basketball to this mix and the good boy Ramasamy turns into Varun ‘Ram’, an exciting 22-year-old basketballer at the University of Maryland, a high division one college in the US.
At 5ft 9 inches, Ram is a point guard, and is responsible for executing all the plays that his coach demands of him. “I have a 3.99 GPA and I actually think my academic interests help me be a mentally stronger and smarter player on court.”
His parents migrated from Salem, Tamil Nadu to Clarksville, Maryland nearly three decades ago. “I used to play soccer and baseball and in middle school got serious about basketball.” He is the first in his family to achieve any noteworthy success in sports. “In America, parents push kids into physical activities from an early age. In my case, since none of my relatives were sportspersons, I had to be self motivated.”
The Indian American developed his skills at the gym behind his house. “I learnt from coaches, watching better players and through online videos. I had a chip on my shoulder and wanted to see how far I could go.”
The guard’s big break came when his local club made it all the way to the national AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) championships. “I got looks from college coaches and realised I was good enough to play at a higher level.” Subsequently, he joined Maryland University after getting a transfer from a lower division college. “While I’m not certain of the exact statistics, less than 10% of high school prospects continue on to college basketball, and an even smaller fraction become professionals in the American basketball league, NBA.”
Surprisingly, despite his relatively short stature, Ram has never been ‘cut’ from any of his school or college teams. “What I lack in height I make up for with quickness. I play very hard everytime I step onto the floor.”
The Maryland native will graduate with a degree in neurobiology and physiology next year. “I’m open to returning to India and it is my craziest ambition to try out for the national basketball team.”