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Butte College athlete reflects on worldwide basketball journey

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OROVILLE, Calif. - Butte College Sophomore Aashay Verma's basketball journey has taken him all over the world. 

He's played in places like Australia, Italy and New York before coming to Butte College. His journey started in India, where he grew up. 

"Back in 2013, I was watching the NBA on my TV," Verma said. "After seeing what they were doing, I went out basketball court and tried out some of their moves. After a while, I just liked it and never looked back."

It's hard to miss Verma on the court. Being 7-foot-3-inches is a natural advantage in basketball, but he said working on his technique has always been a priority.

"When I started playing basketball in India, the NBA Global Academy in Australia saw me," Verma said. "They asked me to come stay with them, play with them and go to school with them. That is where I learned all about playing at my position and being good at my position. They taught me everything I needed to know."

Verma graduated from the NBA Academy. That's when he met former Butte College Head Coach Russ Critchfield and decided to move across the world to Chico. 

"I just felt like it was the perfect fit for me because I liked the area and he was a very welcoming person," Verma said. "Once I came here, met all the people and saw the place, I knew it felt like home."

"He's a freak of nature obviously," teammate and friend Daniel Montoya said. "There aren't many people like him. He's seven feet tall and can actually shoot the ball which isn't something you see often. He's got great touch and great work ethic. It's really fun playing with him. It makes the game much easier."

Verma said playing basketball across the world is a dream come true.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd be here right now, doing this right now," he said. "I had plans to go to Canada and study. I never knew basketball would take me where it has taken me. I'm really grateful for the NBA Academy, Butte College and everyone who has helped me on my journey."

Verma said he's planning to transfer to a four-year university to continue playing basketball and his education. He added he hopes to one day play in and work for the NBA.

Butte College's next game is Saturday against Shasta College.

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