By David Cordova
This interview with Brooklyn Nets forward and Bronx native Chris McCullough back in August 2015 and was originally featured on Gotham Hoops.
One of the best things that a youth from the inner-city can do is make it big. Making it big means receiving a Division I scholarship or being drafted by an NBA team. For Chris McCullough, both blessings came one year apart from the other.
McCullough, a Bronx native, has had a long odyssey in his basketball career. He went to three high schools: Salisbury School (CT), national powerhouse Brewster Academy (NH) and IMG Academy (FL). Also during that time, he was a five-star prospect and ranked No. 24 in the Class of 2014 in the country by ESPN. He also made a name for himself on the AAU circuit with Team Scan, now the PSA Cardinals, in the Nike EYBL, which has produced a lot of the best talent in the Northeast within the last couple of years.
When it was time to pick a college, the 6-10 McCullough picked Syracuse, to play for legendary coach Jim Boeheim. During his freshman year with the Orangemen, he only played 16 games due to a season-ending knee injury which occurred on January 11th, 2015, while playing a home game against Florida State during ACC conference play. But that did not stop him from posting some good numbers: 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.7 steals a game. After only one year of college, McCullough decided to forgo the rest of his college eligibility and declare for the 2015 NBA Draft, in which he was picked No. 29 overall by the Brooklyn Nets.
Q & A with Chris McCullough:
When did you first start playing basketball?
When I was about the age of seven.
When did you first start taking it seriously?
After my seventh grade year. My cousin died and I took it more serious and I found out that I could better myself with this game and eventually make the NBA.
What drives you to be successful?
I just want to succeed in life, so I’m competitive. So everything I do I’m passionate about. I just want to compete.
What made you want to bring a basketball camp to your community?
I grew up in the community and we never had anything like this growing up, so my plan was to do something like this for the kids in my neighborhood. And I’m all for the community.
What influence did the PSA Cardinals have on you as a youth?
They had a big influence on me. I played with them growing up and I still support the program 100%.
What was it like playing for the legendary Jim Boeheim at Syracuse?
It was fun playing for him and also playing in the Carrier Dome with all of the fans around. It was a great all-around experience.
What made you want to commit to Syracuse out of high school?
I’m a New York City guy and I wanted to go to school in New York. But St. John’s was too small for me, so Syracuse ended up being the perfect fit.
How did you feel as a freshman season as a whole?
I only got to play half the season, but I felt good about it. I injured myself, but I’m working my way back from that.
How does it feel to have made the NBA?
I made it. It’s a great feeling. Being that I’m from the Bronx and that I got drafted by the home team is a great feeling.
Now that you’ve made it to the NBA, are you content with where you are at or do you feel like there is more to work on?
I’m working on improving on everything I do. I just want to be the best I can be.
What’s next in the future for Chris McCullough?
Just to get better as an overall player and to strive for greatness.
Due to his injury, McCullough was sidelined for most of the 2015-16 season. On February 9th, he made his NBA debut against the Denver Nuggets in which he had 2 points, one steal and one block in a 105-104 Nets win. As the season neared its end, he had three double-digit point games: 10 points against the Washington Wizards on April 6th, 12 points against the Charlotte Hornets and 12 points on April 8th, which also took place against the Washington Wizards on April 11th.
McCullough finished his first season with 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 24 games. In the 2016 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, he proved that the injury was behind him with an average of 10.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in five games. He also made an appearance in the famed Dyckman Tournament in the Inwood section of Manhattan, on July 29th, for Dominican Power, scoring 26 points and leading them to an 80-76 victory over the Brooklyn Stompers.
Now in his second NBA season, McCullough plans on making an even bigger impact with the Nets. Also in the fold are a couple of other New York natives, such as former Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn) and former Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick (White Plains). Will this trio of players from the New York metro area have the crowd buzzing at the Barclays Center this winter? That’s a question that is bound to be answered soon. But one thing is simple: McCullough is finally ready to make noise with those thundering dunks and overall athleticism. One thing that all Nets fans need to do is: stay tuned and get ready for the show.
Highlights of Chris McCullough:
Courtesy of NextUp Recruits.
Courtesy of 2EZ Gang.
Courtesy of JMBV.
Courtesy of Ballislife East.
Courtesy of CityLeagueHoopsTV.
Courtesy of MaxPreps.
Courtesy of DJBasketball7.
Courtesy of DraftExpress.
Courtesy of Corey Porter TV.
Courtesy fo Down To Buck.
Courtesy of Down To Buck.
Courtesy of Hoops In The Sun Basketball.