McCollum back for more NCAA magic
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports caught up with C.J. McCollum, the star of the 2012 Big Dance, for its weekly Mid-Major Player’s Diary.
It all makes sense now.
Lehigh’s stunning first-round NCAA tournament victory over Duke was spearheaded by Patriot League Player of the Year C.J. McCollum’s 30-point performance. His motivation seemed obvious: make Lehigh school history by beating one of the top programs in the country to advance in the Big Dance.
That was probably true, but McCollum revealed a little secret: He grew up a North Carolina fan.
He also grew up a huge NBA fan and looks up to players like Steph Curry (another player who became a Big Dance darling in Davidson’s Elite Eight run in 2008).
That’s what made it so difficult for McCollum to put a lifelong dream of playing professional basketball on hold to fulfill a promise to his parents. McCollum had the momentum of constantly being on SportsCenter last April, highlighting his transformation from a barely-recruited, not-big-enough guard to a likely NBA first round pick.
But McCollum, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports while working as an intern in Lehigh’s Athletic department, said his mother Kathy and father Errick sent him to college with the belief that he’d earn his degree. So that’s what he’s doing, while returning as one of the top players in college basketball, and hoping to give Lehigh another chance at NCAA tournament glory.
McCollum about his decision to put the NBA on hold:
“Staying at Lehigh was probably the hardest decision I ever made in my life. I was hearing I would go late first round (in the NBA draft). But I promised my parents I’d get four years of an education. That’s what I’m going to do when I get my degree in May. A lot went into it, I also have a sour taste in my mouth after our (NCAA tournament) loss to Xavier. I thought we could have been in the Sweet 16.”
McCollum on his degree and post-basketball career:
“My degree is in journalism. In the long run, my ultimate dream is to be a sports broadcaster. My mom, she … [For more on Mid-Major Player's Diary: McCollum back for more NCAA magic, click here.]