Q&A: Ray McCallum

Detroit junior looking to make an impact in the NBA
by Aaron Lopez

Ray McCallum is accustomed to flying under the radar.

He passed up scholarship offers from high-profile programs such as Arizona, Florida, Kansas and UCLA to play for his father at the University of Detroit.

In three years playing for his hometown school, McCallum averaged 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He was the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year in 2010-11 and the Player of the Year in 2012-13.

With his dad's blessing, McCallum declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season and is going through predraft workouts with various teams.

Denver was one of the stops on McCallum’s tour. He worked out for the Nuggets on June 4. Afterwards, he took a few minutes to talk to

Q: Based on your workout, is it easy to tell that the Nuggets like to push the pace?

A: “They’re a fast-paced team. That’s my style of play. The workout was a lot of fun. There were a lot of competitive drills, a lot full-court things. We were able to get up and down. I like to play in the open court. I think the system and the workout really fit my game.”

Q: Being from Detroit, what do you know about Denver?

A: “I just know you’ve got the baseball team in the Rockies and you’ve got the Broncos and obviously you’ve got the Nuggets. It’s my first time out here. It’s a great city and I really enjoyed it, but I definitely felt the altitude. After a while I got used to it and I was good to go.”

Q: You passed up some bigger schools to play for your dad. What went into that choice?

A: “It was a tough decision. I had a lot of great opportunities, a lot of greats schools out there. Some of the schools had a chance to compete for a national championship. At the end of the day, I went where my heart told me to go – that was to stay home and play for my father. It's something I will always remember. Not many people get the opportunity to play for their father. When I had the chance to stay home and play in front of my family and play for my dad, it was a great decision in my life. I don’t regret anything about it. It’s a memory that will last for a lifetime.”

Q: Do you think you would be projected to be drafted higher if you had played for a marquee school?

A: “It’s a possibility. I think everything happens for a reason. There was a reason for me to go to Detroit. I was able to grow as a man and mature as a person and a player. Those three years were the greatest time in my life. It made my family closer. That’s the most important thing for me. At the end of the day, I’m still here in the draft and just hoping for the best.”

Q: Your dad was an eighth-round pick in 1983 but never made it to the pros. For those who don’t know his background, how close did he come to the NBA?

A: “He got drafted by the Indiana Pacers as kind of a hometown kid. Got to play in summer league, made it to training camp. Unfortunately things didn’t work out the way he wanted to, but he was fine. He got right into coaching and has had a great career and successful coaching career for 26 years. He’s excited about this whole process, seeing me transition my game to the next level.”

Q: As you go through predraft workouts, how often do you talk to your dad?

A: “Before and after the workout. Right now, I’ve probably got a text on my phone from him saying, ‘How did you do?’ and a couple missed calls. He’s really involved in the whole process. He just wants the best for me and my family. We communicate every day. I’ll tell him what I did right and what I did wrong. He knows my game so well, he can kind of tell by the way I talk on the phone (how the workout went). We can fix up things over the phone.”

Q: Describe your game and what you will bring to an NBA team.

A: “I can bring a lot to the table. First off, I’m a player’s coach. Whatever the coach needs me to do, I feel I can come in and do it. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 25 minutes, I’ll come in and play my role. I'm a true point guard and get guys involved. In college, I was pretty good at scoring the ball. I know how to score in multiple ways, and I can defend. I can be a good point guard in the league because I have a strong IQ.”


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