Wednesday was a glorious day for the University of Detroit Mercy basketball program. The Titans landed the best recruit in the school’s history by signing Ray McCallum Jr to a letter of intent. The McDonald’s All American is a special talent at the point guard position, he is athletic, big, and is a coach on the floor. So make that two McCallums at the school that will make a giant impact. My friend, Ray Sr, has already done that with a 20 win season this past year on the sidelines and an added excitement to a program that needed it. Plus, Ray is a good man, and a guy that has reached out to the alums and to folks like me that have called Titan games on radio and online for the last eleven years. I value our friendship, and I am very happy for him and his family.
Yesterday on Valenti and Foster, Mike made the point that he could not understand how a big-time recruit like Ray Jr could turn down a UCLA or an Arizona to play at Detroit. UDM is in the Horizon League, does not have a huge fan base, and only plays on TV a few times a year; while top-flight national championship winners such as the Bruins or Wildcats do.. it is a fact. Valenti also believes that if a young kid is being recruited by amazing universities that offer not just an education, but a big-time lifestyle and great weather, that they should jump at the chance. Mike is entitled to his opinion and there is a part of me that agrees with him. Would Ray Jr have ever chosen UDM if his dad were not the head coach? Mike asked the question, and in Valenti-fashion, took a few shots at Detroit. This is the same guy who last summer supported the school by attending the golf outing with me and talking to the alums and boosters before folks hit the course.
I have received numerous emails from some very good friends of mine who went to UDM lashing out at Mike, and just like Valenti, they also are entitled to their opinion. I see both sides. I really do. Hopefully, the McCallums can turn UDM hoops into a big-time program. As a dad, I can see how it is an amazing feeling for Ray Sr to find out from his son that he has chosen Detroit over UCLA and Arizona. But, I also see Mike’s point. It has been a long time since the students at UDM have even cared about coming to the games at Calihan. I have been there for eleven years, I have seen it first hand. If this does not draw more crowds at a terrific and fun place to see a game like Calihan, then I don’t know what will.
One more thing. Ray Jr has been to almost every home game at Calihan the last two years. He has become very good friends with many of the current players, and trust me, has had a hand in helping dad decide who stays and who goes on this roster. Not many incoming freshman at any school wield that kind of power. On the flip side, has anyone ever been on campus at UCLA? Wow. It is like going on a vacation.