Lehigh G C.J. McCollum Reflects On Trip To Portland To Meet Blazers In Sports Illustrated

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum reflected on his pre-draft visit with the Portland Trail Blazers in a column for Sports Illustrated.

Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum, a journalism major, wrote the "Point After" back-page column in last week's Sports Illustrated. He closed the piece -- which is not yet online -- with some thoughts about his recent pre-draft workout with the Portland Trail Blazers.

I'm also glad I'm going through this at 21. A lot of guys leave college early, but I wouldn't have been ready for this process two years ago. That extra maturity helped me. And no matter what happens next week, I've already had a taste of NBA life. Traveling to meet teams, I've had first-class flights and dinners at great restaurants. Coming from college, where you have no money and people can't even buy you lunch, that's been nice. Last month I landed in Portland to meet with the Trail Blazers. As soon as I got off the plane, some people outside the gate asked for my autograph. My first thought was, Wow, this is cool. My next was, How did they know this was my flight? Then I wondered: The plane was three hours late -- how long have these people been waiting?

Getting that kind of attention is a great feeling, but it reminded me how things change once you even get close to the NBA. You're a public figure, and you won't be getting paid to just run fast and jump high and score points. You're representing the team that picks you. I'm ready to get it all started.

  • C.J. McCollum | Lehigh | Senior | 6-foot-3 | 197 pounds | PG/SG | DX profile | No. 8 in top 100
  • Career Highlights: Ranks first in Patriot League history and second in school history with 2,361 career points scored. Named Patriot League Player of the Year as a junior and freshman. Earned Honorable Mention All-American Honors from the Associated Press as a junior and freshman. Named First Team All-Patriot League as a junior, sophomore and freshman.

    Senior (2012-13): Ranked first on team in scoring (23.9 ppg) while ranking second in rebounds (5.0 rpg) and assists (2.9 apg). Scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games played. Scored a season-high 36 points along with eight rebounds against Baylor. Scored 35 points against Fairfield. Scored 34 points against Bryant. Scored 30 points along with a season-high nine rebounds against Quinnipiac. Missed the bulk of the season after suffering a broken left foot on Jan. 5.

    ...

    Strengths: Has solid size and length for a guard. Extremely skilled scorer inside and out. Gets to the rim at a good rate, but more dangerous from the perimeter. Good rebounder and defender for his position.

    More from Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress.com...

    Despite the improvement in his numbers likely being inflated by the limited sample of games we have to look at (12 total), the consistency of McCollum's mechanics, whether he's pulling up off the dribble, shooting off the catch, or using his step-back are more controlled and consistent than they were early in his career. He still takes some difficult, off balance shots, but his 63% true shooting percentage ranks him as the most efficient point guard prospect in our top-100 nonetheless, reflecting just how impressive he's been as a senior.

    In addition to his improved shooting, McCollum continues to show the ability to get into the paint using changes of speed and direction to keep defenders guessing. Possessing a good first step, but lacking blow by quickness and elite leaping ability, McCollum isn't as prolific at the basket as he is from the perimeter, but he shows good body control and a willingness to draw contact. Finishing at a 56.8% clip at the rim and averaging 6.1 free throw attempts per-game, the two-time Patriot League Player of the Year can make plays around the rim given the opportunity and excels in fast paced games where he can push the ball and catch the defense scrambling.

    A crafty shot creator with a high skill level and basketball IQ, McCollum shows good court vision, but is not a natural facilitator for the Mountain Hawks, nor is he asked to be one. The Ohio native does make very good decisions pushing the ball in the open floor, and has impressive ball-handling skills, leaving plenty of room for optimism that he could fill a role that calls for both scoring and distributing as a NBA point guard long-term.

    Chad Ford of ESPN.com had the Blazers selecting McCollum in a recent mock draft, as did David Aldridge of NBA.com right here. Ford also recently included McCollum on a list of three players piquing the Blazers' interest, along with Croatian forward Dario Saric and Caldwell-Pope.

    Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett has the Blazers selecting McCollum in his mock draft.

    Blazers point guard Damian Lillard included McCollum on a list of his three favorite players in this year's class, along with Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel and Kansas guard Ben McLemore.

    McCollum was also included in a list of the three best fits for the Blazers by a national analyst.

    Lillard has been used as a comparison for McCollum as both spent four years at small schools.

    You can read ZiggyTheBeagle's statistical similarity breakdowns of McCollum here.

    Check out the following DraftExpress.com videos of McCollum.

    -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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