After playing at Kazakhstan and Kottayam, Varun Dev has his eyes set on the big league
Varun Dev was hung up on cricket initially but couldn’t make it to the St. Patrick’s School, Secunderabad squad. The institution’s basketball coach Raja Reddy felt the 6’ 2” ninth standard student was better suited for the game of hoops and wits and roped the teenager in. The very same year saw him play the state youth championships at Marteru and the juniors at Gudivada.
His sterling display in the Fr. Devasia and Ritu Bohra Memorial Inter-school Tournaments straightaway earned him a place in the Andhra Pradesh squad for the 2002 Mini Nationals at Puducherry. He thus became the youngest player from the state to play in a National. The strapping youngster then came under the tutelage of coach and Basketball Federation of India (BFI) referee G. Jacob, whose counsel served as a catalyst to his ward’s further exploits.
While in the last year at St. Patricks, he was adjudged best player in the Dr. Emily Emanuel, the Fr. Devasia inter-school and virtually every district tournament he took part in. As captain, he led AP to the title in the National youth championships at Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. Still in the tenth standard, he played in the senior Nationals at Cuttack, Orissa.
His prodigious talent wasn’t lost on the national selectors, who included him for a national camp for players under-21 years of age at Ludhiana. Chosen for India Reds in an invitational tournament at Kotkapura, he made his mark against a Canadian team besides the top eight junior sides in the country, including one from the Services.
In 2004, he figured prominently in AP’s bronze medal winning effort at the Chittoor junior Nationals. Based on that performance, he was picked for the Indian camp for under-16 players at Indore in preparation for the Children’s Games of Asia at Yakutia, Moscow. Still to write his matriculation exams, he again played in the senior Nationals at Ludhiana. Varun featured for Secunderabad when it clinched the all India inter YMCA tournament crown, held at Delhi.
In the following year, he played in the South Zone championships at Kottayam, that included the Sri Lankan national team too. At the 2006 junior Nationals in Ludhiana, he changed positions to forward. Selected for the Indian under-19 camp at the same venue, Varun gained from the wisdom of Robert Reed, a former Houston Rockets player.
In the middle Asian qualifying round in Kazakhstan, he steered India to a second place finish and thereby a berth in the junior Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) chamionships at Urmiqui, a Beijing suburb. Another senior Nationals later, he helped Hyderabad to the title in the CM’s Cup at Gachibowli. In June this year, Varun turned out for the state in the junior Nationals at Anantapur.
Former Indian captain Mohammed Rizwan, coach Jacob and Federation International de Basketball (FIBA) Commissioner Norman Isaac are positive that Varun packs tremendous potential, but lament his lack of application. Rizwan believes the first year B Com student of St. Mary’s College, Yousufguda ought to carry the campaign of his team on his shoulders but doesn’t do so.
Varun himself aspires to join a US university or the European league. True to his basketball tastes, he loves hip hop and reggae music and gleans whatever he can from magazines on the game.A. JOSEPH ANTONY