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Category: Sports Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:07 Written by Leland Stein III
While the college basketball season is in full bloom and March Madness is on most minds, the University of Detroit Mercy is doing its part as it is firmly in the Horizon League title chase.
Led by the father and son team of Ray McCallum Sr. and Jr., the Titans of Detroit are keeping themselves in the college basketball conversation.
Clearly one of the better basketball stories in the country, McCallum Sr. and Jr. are keeping Detroit Mercy basketball a source of pride for the Motor City.
Ray Jr. decision to leave scholarship opportunities with a number of national college basketball powers to go to be a student/athlete for Dad, proves that blood is thicker that perceived national basketball power rankings and/or college pedigree.
UDM recently contested Valparaiso on ESPNU in a rematch of the 2012 Horizon League Championship. It lost a one point contest at home, but there is still reason to believe that the Titans are still in the game.
Led by Ray Jr. the Titans had produced a home winning streak of 17-straight games that Valparaiso broke. Ironically Detroit's last loss at home came on Jan. 6, 2012 against Valparaiso, 73-71. Still UDM had implemented a five game win streak and seemed to be jelling as a team.
Junior guard Ray Jr. has produced a stellar start to the 2012-13 season and as he goes so will the Titans.
Although UDM boasts one of the most balanced attacks in the nation with all five starters averaging double figures. But it is Ray Jr. who currently leads the Horizon League in two categories this season scoring (19.1 ppg) and steals (1.7 spg.) and is third in assists with 4.5 apg. He also ranks 29th in the nation in scoring.
For his efforts Ray Jr. has been named a finalist for the 2013 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. This marks the second straight year that McCallum has been named to the final 20 of the Bob Cousy Award.
He is also climbing up the UDM career record board. McCallum has 1,325 points (20th), 381 assist (9th) and 140 steals (10th) in his career. The last Titan to rank among the top-10 in all three of those categories was Rashad Phillips '01. Ray Jr. needs 277 points to reach that plateau.
With Ray Jr. leading the way, Detroit, had posted a 9-2 record over its last 11 games, before its loss to Valparaiso.
After Detroit finished its 2011-12 season at 22-14 all knew that Ray Jr. would be the key to everything this season, and, he has taken on that challenge.
Although UDM lost three key players, from last year’s team that won the Horizon League conference tournament title, and, with that title can an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament against No. 2 seed Kansas.. The Horizon League Tournament title was the first for the Detroit since 1999.
"This was big for us, you know, going through the season with all the things that we had to go through," Ray Sr. said about last year’s team. "We had to fight through adversity, guys getting hurt and then, you know, we figured out how to play together as a team.”
Said Ray Jr.: “After coming alive last season and winning the title, my decision to stay in Detroit and play for my Dad was what was right for me. It was a great feeling for both of us, and, we hope we can bring the fans another season like that.”
As for Ray Jr’s continued growth as a point guard, he noted that he is a student of the game.
After winning the 2012 Horizon League Tournament MVP, this past summer Ray Jr. attended Chris Paul's invite-only CP3 Elite Guard Camp in Paul's hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. It marked the second year in a row that he has been invited to a summer performance camp as he competed in the Deron Williams and LeBron James Skills Academy last year, parlaying the experiences into a spot on Team USA at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China.
“Playing for USA Basketball was a great experience,” Ray Jr. said. “Playing with some of the best coaches and players in the country surely helped me step my game up even further.”
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