FORT WAYNE – Concordia boys basketball coach Josh Eggold said he thought too many times last year D.J. McCall would get knocked off his path on the way to the basket. A year later, the junior guard/forward is not only physically strong enough to get to the basket, but he also often finishes with a crowd-pleasing dunk.
A stronger and more physical McCall has become a dangerous player in transition for the Cadets (17-4) and has emerged as the team’s leading scorer with 17.5 points per game.
He would get drives last year and get pushed off the line he was trying to drive on, Eggold said. This year, he is able to get to where he wants to on the floor without much effort
He does so well in the middle of the floor in transition that people just feed off him. He is a tremendous playmaker, not only for himself but for his teammates. What I want to see him do more of is when he rebounds the ball is just go. He doesn’t need to give it up. He creates space in the middle of the floor top of the key to the top of the key.
Eggold compares McCall’s quickness with that of Northrop’s standout senior twins Bryson and Brenton Scott.
He can really put distance between people with the ball, Eggold said of McCall.
Eggold estimates McCall has about 20 dunks or about one per game this year, and that could be conservative because most high school teams don’t officially track that as a statistic.
I didn’t really notice it until (senior teammate) Ryan (Gross) actually told me that when I look to dunk, I play better, McCall said. Dunking is nice, but being aggressive steps my game up and gets the energy up.
I like to play in transition. My defense translates to offense, getting out into transition and getting steals, getting rebounds and starting the break.
Getting the slams and layups in transition has helped McCall, who has an offer from Chicago State and interest from other Midwest colleges, shoot 62 percent on two-point field goal attempts.
He is second on the team with 5.6 rebounds and third with 3.4 assists.
The 6-foot-5 McCall spent a good time in the offseason thinking about two things – weightlifting and the disappointment of a sectional finals loss to Bishop Dwenger. He took care of one of those things by bulking up, and he can gain a measure of revenge Tuesday for the other in a first-round matchup against the Saints at the Garrett Sectional.
After the sectional loss to Dwenger, I felt like I did not contribute much to the game, McCall said.
It made me so hungry to be ready for the next year. I worked pretty hard over the summer and in the offseason, and I hit the weights hard.
I felt like it was all work ethic. We want to play the best in the sectional. To play Dwenger first gives us more preparation.
Eggold said he wanted to see McCall take on a new role after the postseason loss to Dwenger.
We had meetings in (the coaches’ office) after that loss, and I told D.J. that he has to be our leading scorer next year, and that he has that ability.