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Rajahpillay hopes to make difference on and off court

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Rajahpillay hopes to make difference on and off court

Senior point guard Gavin Rajahpillay drives the ball up the court past an opposing guard during a game against Villa Maria last year.

Senior point guard Gavin Rajahpillay drives the ball up the court past an opposing guard during a game against Villa Maria last year.

Photo by Gracey Evans

Senior point guard Gavin Rajahpillay drives the ball up the court past an opposing guard during a game against Villa Maria last year.

Photo by Gracey Evans

Photo by Gracey Evans

Senior point guard Gavin Rajahpillay drives the ball up the court past an opposing guard during a game against Villa Maria last year.

Written By Derek Malush

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In the summer of 2005, avid 10-year-old basketball player Gavin Rajahpillay witnessed a kid just like himself get launched into the limelight of sports entertainment in the movie “Like Mike”, an American film about Michael Jordan.While the youngster was living on the African island of Maritius, he still believed he could also achieve a level of greatness on the court and off that could rival Jordan, one of the greatest of all time.

Thirteen years later, Rajahpillay is now the starting point guard for the Point Park Pioneers, and has secured an education that he hopes will enable him to make a difference for young people in his homeland and around the world.

Head basketball coach Gabe Bubon, described Rajahpillay as “determined”. 

“I don’t know what he is determined about, but it’s a good trait to have,” Bubon said.

Mauritius is a small island off the coast of Madagascar, where six-year-old Rajahpillay and his family lived before coming to the United States. He began his basketball career playing recreationally and streetball at any court he could find, working on fundamentals to expand his game. After watching the movie “Like Mike”, Rajahpillay says he “just loved the underdog story.”

“After that I have always loved the basketball culture and the grind that it came with,” Rajahpillay said.

Coach Bubon stumbled upon Rajahpillay after scrolling through “hundreds of kids’ highlight tapes” and seeing Rajahpillay’s uncommon last name. Bubon said that he “likes cool names, so I clicked on his highlight tape and knew I had to have him.”

Rajahpillay didn’t waste any time stepping into a leader role as he started 23 out of the 24 regular season games last year, averaging 16 points and five assists per game in his first year with the Pioneers last season.

Point Park graduate and former Pioneer basketball player Jaylen Mann, who played alongside Rajahpillay last season called him, “our leader.”

“He set our tempo every game,” Mann said.

Current teammate Kenny Sickles referred to Rajahpillay as, “our go-to guy.”

“Even when he is on the bench, he is communicating with guys and helping our team move forward every night,” Sickles said.

From Mauritius to Point Park University, Rajahpillay is “giving all the glory to God” for all his past, present and future opportunities.

The Creole-speaking
point guard moved to the United States into a one-bedroom apartment on top of a bar in downtown Maryland with his grandfather, mother, father, sister and brother. Before coming to Point Park, he played for a junior college team in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Rajahpillay thanks his many mentors who got him to where he is today as the face of the men’s basketball team, however, his father shadows every single one of them.

“You must work for everything,”  his father says, adding that, “it takes sacrifice to get to where you want to be, no short cuts.”

Rajahpillay models his work ethic from the likes of his father, who is, “a big part of who I am today,” he added.

With aspirations of becoming a family man, Rajahpillay’s dream is to become the dean of students at his hometown high school as well as the head basketball coach.

“I just want to give back and be around kids,” Rajahpillay said. “The sport of basketball has haunted me for so long I want to find something else I can put my full heart into just like I did with this sport.”

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