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The Suburbanite
  • Sunday Special: Injury derails McCollum's stats drive, not NBA dreams

  • Lehigh guard and GlenOak graduate C.J. McCollum broke a bone in his left foot last week and may have ended his college playing career. The timing of the injury couldn’t be worse. All 30 NBA teams have been tracking McCollum, who was on pace to become the leading scorer in Lehigh history. But McCollum was on pace to do much more, too.

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  • Since 2007, Brett Reed has been the men’s basketball coach at Lehigh University. When an assistant coach found C.J. McCollum playing at GlenOak and then called Reed in on the recruiting process, he knew he had a diamond in the rough.
    Reed spent 2002-2007 as an assistant coach at Lehigh. He has a firm grasp on the history of the Mountain Hawks basketball program.
    McCollum broke a bone in his left foot last week and may have ended his college playing career. The timing of the injury couldn’t be worse. All 30 NBA teams have been tracking McCollum, who was on pace to become the leading scorer in Lehigh history.
    But McCollum was on pace to do much more, too.
    McCollum was leading the nation in scoring with 24.9 points per game, one year after finishing fifth in the country with 21.9 points a game.
    McCollum has 2,361 career points. He likely would have scored in the neighborhood of 700 points if he had finished the season and he would have been near the top 20 all-time scorers in college basketball history.
    Pete Maravich tops the list with 3,667 points, followed by Freeman Williams (3,249), Lionel Simmons (3,217) and Harry Kelly (3,066). McCollum would have been in company with players such as  Hersey Hawkins, Oscar Robertson, Danny Manning, Elvin Hayes, Tyler Hansbrough, Larry Bird, David Roberston and Stephen Curry. He would have passed Elgin Baylor, Bill Bradley, Austin Carr and Andrew Toney.
    Daren Queenan is Lehigh’s all-time scorer with 2,709 points.
    “The injury will take its toll, and he won’t accumulate that number of points,” Reed said of McCollum. “C.J. has a realistic chance of doing it. Because of his on-court success — and I don’t want to take anything away from the other great players here — but it is my personal opinion he should go down as one of the greatest players in Lehigh history.”
    McCollum’s rehabilitation after surgery is  eight to 10 weeks, but it isn’t a great chance that McCollum returns at all. He is considered a first-round NBA Draft pick, and risking further injury to the foot isn’t something Reed is willing to do.
    Reed has a strong belief that McCollum’s injury will not affect his draft status that much.
    “He had established himself in that position prior to his injury,” Reed said. “He had a high draft status based on his performance and injuries like this are not debilitating. He will have an opportunity to perform at a high level upon recovery. He has a bright future ahead of him in professional basketball.”
    WELL WISHERS
    Plenty of players from around the country, as well as college and NBA analysts, took to social media to wish McCollum a speedy recovery. Among those sending word to him via Twitter were Greg Anthony, David Aldridge and Fran Fraschilla, as well as rival players and coaches. Then Dick Vitale used a portion of his time on ESPN on Saturday to wish McCollum well.
    Page 2 of 3 - Basketball types not only respect McCollum because of the player he has made himself during the last four year, but also because of the class in which he carries himself.
    UNDERSTATEMENT
    Asked what he remembers thinking when he saw McCollum play at GlenOak as a sub-6-foot guard, Reed laughed.
    “I made the simplest comment to an assistant coach that I felt C.J. could really help our program,” Reed said. “That was the understatement of my career here.”
    BROWNS HIRE
    New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III didn’t really settle for career coordinator and NFL assistant Rob Chudzinski as the team’s new head coach. As a matter of fact, when looking at what was left — or willing to come to Cleveland — Chudzinski isn’t a bad hire.
    It was laughable that people were saying Haslam was going after Alabama head coach Nick Saban. There never was a real chance Saban would come to Cleveland. He already upset the salary apple cart in college football, and the Browns would have had to upset one in the NFL, too, just to get Saban to think about it. Besides, coaches who have statues of themselves outside of stadiums don’t leave.
    Once Chip Kelly stopped flirting with the NFL and Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher weren’t about to ruin their legacies here, the second-tier guys were the only ones the Browns could get.
    And that’s OK.
    Cleveland needs a dynamic personality running its football team, and one with an offensive mind. Kelly would have been a good fit. If Chudzinski has the personality part of this down and can be somewhat of an egomaniac, he will do fine in Cleveland.
    I’m tired of nice, polite head coaches. I want someone with a little passion and fire brewing on the sideline and the postgame press conferences.
    BLACKLEDGE IMPROVES
    There may not be a more improved high school basketball player in Stark County from freshman to senior year than Hoover’s 6-foot-5 Harrison Blackledge. His absence Friday night because of early foul trouble was obvious. But his presence in the third quarter against GlenOak was even more obvious.
    Blackledge has gotten bigger and stronger, and his footwork is so far superior from where it was a year ago that he is a different player under the basket.
    What colleges need to remember about Blackledge is he is only 17 years old. He could easily have been held back when he was younger, but he has advanced academics, so his best basketball is still in front of him. Blackledge doesn’t turn 18 until the summer.
    HOOVER IS TOUGH
    Hoover’s boys team may be the best in the county, because the Vikings have three legitimate scoring threats. Senior Dom Iero can shoot from anywhere — 30 feet and in — and knock ’em down on a consistent basis. Blackledge’s presence inside is worth 15 points. And Nick Evans is capable of going for 15 most nights, too.
    Page 3 of 3 - The one weakness is a lack of depth inside. When Blackledge picked up a cheap offensive foul — his second — in the first quarter, GlenOak was able to attack the basket. However, Hoover got quality minutes from Matt Zehnder, forced into extended time in the first half.
    PETE ELLIOTT
    Longtime Pro Football Hall of Fame ambassador — and the longest serving executive director of the Hall — Pete Elliott was laid to rest Saturday at a quiet service in Ann Arbor, Mich. There was a service for Elliott in Canton on Friday. Stephen Perry, the current Hall of Fame executive director and president, spoke at the service, as did Elliott’s former University of Illinois running back Jim Grabowski, who played with Bart Starr and Green Bay in the NFL. There was a reception at the Hall of Fame after.
    Elliott was a one-of-kind gentleman, who was loyal to Stark County and could always spin a great story. He will be missed.