Ray McCallum: "Like A Dream Come True"
By: Lorne Chan Spurs.com
Ray McCallum was keeping track of the NBA’s wild offseason in the same way as most fans, through Twitter and TV reports. He was particularly impressed by the Spurs’ moves, he said, when he got a phone call one night last week.
It was Spurs general manager R.C. Buford welcoming him to the team.
“It was a random, unexpected call, and probably one of the best I’ve ever gotten,” McCallum said. “Sitting at home watching the offseason unfold, then finding myself thrown into that group of Spurs players, it’s like a dream come true.”
McCallum, a 6-foot-3 guard, was acquired in a trade with Sacramento on Thursday. A 2013 Kings draft pick, McCallum averaged 6.9 points, 2.7 assists and 20.7 minutes per game the past two seasons.
He’s marveled at the Spurs from the Pacific Division, studying guard Tony Parker for years and calling him “one of the best in the game.”
“I’ve looked up to the Spurs for a while,” McCallum said. “It was frustrating to play against the Spurs, because they always found a way to win. They always make that extra pass and close out, and I think I’ll fit in well.”
After backup guard Cory Joseph signed with Toronto last week after four seasons with the Spurs, Ray McCallum will likely take over Joseph’s role on the Spurs’ roster.
They posted similar numbers last season, as Joseph played 1,444 minutes while McCallum played 1,436 minutes. Joseph averaged 6.8 points and 2.4 assists with the Spurs and McCallum had 7.4 points and 2.8 assists for the Kings.
“McCallum fills a big need,” Buford said. “Cory’s play and his presence in our group can’t be overstated. Replacing Cory’s fire, passion and personality as well as 1,500 minutes of really good play was important for us. To go out and get a player like Ray fills a big hole.”
McCallum, a Detroit native, was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and received scholarship offers from college powers such as UCLA and Arizona. He chose to stay home at University of Detroit instead, and with good reason.
His father, Ray McCallum Sr., is Detroit’s basketball coach.
As a sophomore, McCallum led Detroit to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 13 years. As a junior, he was named the Horizon League player of the year.
“It’s a rare opportunity to get to play for your dad,” McCallum said. “It helped me better myself not only as a player, but as a man, too, And when I called him after talking to R.C. to tell him I was a Spur, I think my dad was more excited than me.”
Foregoing his senior year, McCallum was a second-round draft pick by the Kings at No. 36 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. He averaged 6.2 points and 2.7 assists as a rookie, making 10 starts in 45 games.
McCallum was named MVP of the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League, and saw a boost in playing time for his sophomore season. He started all 30 games after the 2015 All-Star break for the Kings, averaging 11.2 points and 4.3 assists in those games.
He said he hopes to be seen as a high-energy guard who can create opportunities on the defensive end.
According to SportVU data, McCallum was one of the NBA’s fastest players, with an average speed of 4.6 miles per hour in games. Only two players, Patty Mills and Cory Joseph had a speed of 4.7 or higher last season.
“Spurs fans will see someone who plays quick, plays fast and does whatever the team needs,” McCallum said. “I look at the banners here and I love that it’s all about winning. I think this is going to feel like home pretty quickly.”