ROBERT SUTTON / Associated Press file, 2011

Detroit point guard Ray McCallum, driving against Alabama's Trevor Lacey in 2011, averaged 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists as a junior last season.

Kings' McCallum has no regrets about playing at small school

Published: Monday, Jul. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 - 10:29 pm

Ray McCallum Jr. had the basketball résumé of a high school superstar.

He was a McDonald's and Parade Magazine All-American and led Detroit Country Day School, Chris Webber's alma mater, to a state championship as a senior. And the point guard was athletic enough to finish second in the McDonald's slam dunk contest.

But McCallum bypassed the chance to play at a big school to play at the University of Detroit Mercy – for a coach who didn't recruit him, his father, Ray McCallum Sr.

After three seasons, Ray Sr. said it was time for Ray Jr. to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. The Kings selected Ray Jr. in the second round of the NBA draft last week, 36th overall.

Ray Jr. said the decision to play for his father came down to whom he trusted most with his career.

"I had a special three years, and I don't regret anything about it at all," Ray Jr. said. "I'd do the same thing. At the end of the day, it worked out for me, and I'm getting my opportunity to make my dream come true of playing in the NBA."

Ray Sr., who said he intentionally didn't recruit his son, watched as UCLA, Florida and Arizona courted Ray Jr.

"I felt like it was important since he worked hard to put himself in position to have those high major opportunities, so I didn't recruit him during that process," Ray Sr. said. "He went through it along with his mom and sister, and I just remained Dad and sat in on the visits and went to the visits and wanted to give him his space to figure out for himself and what he wanted."

Ray Jr. decided playing for his father and helping improve the Detroit Mercy program was best. In three seasons, the Titans were 59-43, including an appearance in the NCAA Tournament in Ray Jr.'s sophomore season and in the National Invitation Tournament last season.

The decision wasn't only about family ties. Ray Sr. was drafted in the eighth round by the Indiana Pacers in 1983 after a standout career at Ball State, where his jersey is one of only two retired at the school (the other is former Kings guard Bonzi Wells). Previously, he won back-to-back state titles at Muncie Central High School in Indiana.

"That's part of the reason I chose to play for him, because he played the game and he was a point guard and he did a good job at that," Ray Jr. said. "I had to go through a lot of the same things he went through, so it's helpful. He knows my game better than anybody else, and he's definitely tough on me all the time and made me a better player."

Ray Jr. had a strong enough junior season – 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists – that Ray Sr. contacted NBA personnel about his 6-foot-2 son's chances in the league, and the feedback was positive.

Though Ray Jr. had hoped to be a first-round pick, he said he's excited about joining the Kings.

"He really felt like he was a first-round talent, and he was hoping for the first round," Ray Sr. said. "And when he didn't get in the first, I think he was hoping Sacramento would be his landing spot. They did a lot of work on him; they've been watching him for the last couple of years very closely. So I think they knew what they were getting."

Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro said last week he followed Ray Jr. while working for the Denver Nuggets.

"Ray McCallum is just one of the classiest young men you'll ever meet," D'Alessandro said, "and a heck of a player."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

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