All Eyes On Me: Roadrunner, AJ Chahal Seeks To Make Impact on The Court
Recognition is something that’s tough, fought for, and respected. People go lengths in order to achieve it, yet it’s only at its purest when it’s rightfully earned. The process in order to get it that way may take strength and patience, but just one interaction with the right individual can change everything in an instant. LBCC Men’s Basketball player AJ Chahal knows this all too well, and his story all starts with the will to work, and the one pair of eyes that took immediate notice.
Chahal was born in Delta, British Columbia, just seven hours away from Albany. He was always playing basketball growing up, and made it his number one interest.
“Nothing really else got my attention growing up as much as basketball did,” said Chahal.
While he always had a love for basketball, It didn’t quite get ahold of his attention like it did at a younger age, and it gradually lost his focus throughout his first few years of high school.
“I didn’t give my best effort, and my coach was not the best influence at the time,” said Chahal.
That was until his senior year, when he grew to 6 foot 5 inches tall and realized that his knowledge of the game and natural skill set could take him somewhere.
“I knew my height could allow me to be versatile. I could play lots of spots on the floor.”
To further his game, Chahal went from his hometown Delta all the way to Toronto to be apart of the Toronto Basketball Academy.This experience of being away from home at a young age helped his transition to LBCC later on.
During his work at the academy, he was trained by coach Paul Bains, who has grown into much more than a teacher in basketball.
“Coach Bains trained me hard every single day and I was always pushing my limits. To call him just a coach would be disrespectful, he’s more of an older brother,” said Chahal.
Once Chahal had spent time at the academy, he did many showcases across the northwest, eventually making his way to Oregon. It was at a showcase here that his skills caught the attention of assistant coach Todd Zimmerman.
“We talked briefly at the showcase, but we stayed in touch over the phone mostly. You could tell he cared about my future and it was about more than basketball,” said Chahal.
Chahal then committed to playing for the Roadrunners to start his college career, but wasn’t quite able to join the players early on in the summer. He was worried this would affect chemistry, but he was able to bond with his team and roommates quickly.
“It’s been really easy getting used to Oregon. My past experiences on my own in a city like Toronto really helped. Only tough thing is choosing the food around here,” said Chahal.
When asked about his favorite places to eat here in Albany, he gave some likewise choices.
“I really like Izzy’s, but another go-to is Burgerville. Both solid new choices.”
One of his roommates and teammates, point guard Jameel Morton, is grateful for what he brings to the court.
“AJ has great work ethic. He’s always pushing everyone in practice and he’ll let you know if you’re messing up. He helps you score on the court and excels in the catch and shoot,” said Morton.
Chahal currently has plans to major in sports exercise here at LBCC, but his long term focus remains on the court.
“Once Im done here at LBCC, I would love to continue to play at a high level at a school closer to home, so my family can see me play in person,” said Chahal.
Chahal is playing his freshman season and currently averages 7.2 points per game, while helping with 2.1 rebounds a game. He shoots a modest 49 percent from the field but currently ranks third overall with a stellar 51 percent from three point range. His stats provided off of the bench help his team work together each game to achieve combined success.
Recently, Chahal was able to score 15 points against SW Oregon, going 5-6 overall from the field, and a clutch 4-5 from three point range. His two rebounds helped as well. Chahal added seven points against Clark later that week, but was smart and accurate with his shots, shooting 2-3 from the field.
“I just take it day to day and improve game to game. I’m focused on playing with these guys this season because not all of them will be around next year,” said Chahal.
Chahal had the honor of getting named to an all-tournament team after his play in a tournament at Pierce College in November. His work continues to improve as the competition heats up.
“It’s getting harder to play teams because they can scout talent and see what my teammates and I have been doing each game,” added Chahal.
Chahal and the Roadrunners return home this Wednesday, Feb. 6 to face Umpqua Community College in a battle between two of the top teams in the south region. LBCC has had success on the road, winning back to back before returning home. They currently sit at 12-8 overall with a 6-3 record in the south division. Umpqua has solidified themselves as one of the best teams in the NWAC, holding a 14-7 record and performing 7-1 in the south region.
Chahal has known that some people weigh you down when striving for greatness. Now that he’s at the next level, it’s all eyes on him, and he knows staying true to his methods he grew to use in Toronto will help him here. The future holds many possibilities for Chahal, but for him, it stays one game at a time with his team as they look to gain success throughout the rest of the season.
Story by Cam Hanson