The first time Shaun Jayachandran reached out to Varun Ram about volunteering at “Hoops Creating Hope,” Ram politely declined.
The Maryland walk-on didn’t want to sacrifice three weeks from his summer training. But when Jayachandran went around Ram and contacted Mark Turgeon directly the next year, Ram had no choice.
“Varun are you crazy? You have to go and do this program,” Turgeon told him.
So Ram volunteered at the camp following his junior and senior seasons. After receiving his graduate degree from Maryland last May, he went back for year three.
“It’s a basketball camp for three, four hundred kids in Chennai that all come from low-income families,” Ram said. “It is an opportunity for them to learn a new sport, physical fitness in general, and leadership; just a lot of things that aren’t really harped on in the Indian culture per se. That’s been pretty rewarding for me.”
Ram described the program as one of the most fulfilling things in his already accomplished life and was proud of his contribution to younger kids that idolized him.
“Just to see the community that my parents grew up in and give back to that community,” Ram described, “even basketball wise, it was just the best of both worlds. Every year just a positive and unbelievable experience.”
His favorite part of the experience? The younger student’s astonishment that a 5’9 Indian-American could dunk a basketball. “Oh my God, I can’t believe that’s possible,” Ram remembers hearing from the youth.
Ram’s most known in College Park for “the stop” that sent Maryland’s 2014-15 team to the Round of 32 with a win over Valparaiso.
But he was also known for his brains. Ram graduated with with a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology and Physiology as well as a Supply Chain Management master’s degree from the Business school. Now he’s taking to the workforce as a business analyst for Deloitte in Washington D.C. and Virginia.
But before settling down with his job, Ram took part in an annual Indo-Pak basketball tournament in Chicago. He hit a game-winning three-pointer in the finals to put the Maryland team over Winnipeg.
Varun Ram with the game winner in the Finals. Maryland goes on to beat Winnipeg...what a game!Posted by Chicago Indo-Pak Basketball on Sunday, July 24, 2016
“It was so great to play at Maryland and play at that level, but sometimes it’s also fun to be one of the better players on the court and get to dominate,” Ram said. “At Maryland, I had a specific role and it was fun and I loved it, but sometimes it’s fun to cut loose.”
“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” Ram described his first thoughts post-graduation. “I decided I wanted to have time with myself, something I was never able to really do as a student athlete. I absolutely loved being a student athlete, wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it also kind of made things hard like getting internships, studying abroad, traveling, things like that difficult.”
Ram said he could have had potential opportunities to play overseas, but “at some point the ball has to stop bouncing.”
However, the intelligent guard may have a future in coaching. Some Maryland assistants expressed interest in Ram working as a graduate assistant, but he thought the Deloitte offer was also a great opportunity. Even NBA scouts have given him positive feedback.
“You left a lasting impression on the Maryland basketball culture with your hard work,” Ram heard from a scout. “It’s very easy for someone like you who’s played at this level and that’s a hard worker to get back in the game whether it be scouting, or coaching, or front office management.”